Evanston police part of ‘holistic’ approach to deter violence
The community continues to put strategies in place to deter the violence that flared late last year, said Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington, left with Cmdr. Jay Parrott, during a briefing on city crime trends. | Bob Seidenberg~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:15AM
EVANSTON — The number of violent crime incidents showed an increase in 2012 while property crimes took a slight dip, according to final year-end statistics from the Evanston Police Department.
There was a 47 increase in aggravated assault and battery incidents; some were domestic, but some were feud-related, Police Chief Richard Eddington said last week.
Police attribute a war between feuding families or individuals set off the violence late last year that led to the fatal shooting of two young adults and the near fatal shooting of another.
“I think if you look back on your weekly or daily blotters in April, May and June, if you look at Lyons and Dodge, there are frequent firearms events which fall into this category,” Eddington said.
Police continue to work closely with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office assembling a “prosecutable” case in the fatal shootings of Justin Murray, 19, and Jabar Bamberg, 23, he said.
Obstacles include “people who ... witness what happened but are discouraged from coming forward because they were participants in the conflict or they are adhering to a no-snitch culture,” Eddington said.
“One of the unique things about police department corporate culture is that there are two sets of people who remember the victim – the family and the cops. We don’t dismiss those (fatal incidents), don’t forget those and continue to apply efforts to bring those to a successful conclusion,” Eddington said.
He said the city is using a number of different components in a more “holistic approach,” to turn youth from violence. Last year, through the city’s Recreation Department, police used outreach workers with street credibility to approach those involved in the violence “and say this may not be the way you want to spend your life.”
Parks and Recreation officials have moved away from recreation centers operating at set times and familiar modes.
At Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl’s behest, officials are changing programs to providing more available evening and weekend time, and expanding hours, especially in the summer, Eddington said.
The changes include more open gym time and activities, long clamored for in West Side Evanston, such as roller-skating.
“That something Parks and Recreation went out and asked about,” Eddington said. “If you came to a city directors meeting none of us would have thought about roller-skating. That wasn’t going to happen,” he said.
On the street, police are looking at different deployment strategies, making sure officers are in place to prevent follow up crimes.
“What we’re trying to do is drive down the number of victims,” the chief said. “We’re absolutely happy with crime prevention rather than clearance by arrest. If I have to choose between the two I’ll take deployment.”
Eddington cited other components of the mayor’s plan, including a priority on workplace development for the estimated 30 percent of Evanston Township High School students who don’t go on to college.
Officials from the city and high school quietly negotiated an agreement last year in which police agreed to staff an additional school resource officer.
In return, high school officials agreed to free up a social worker’s duties to focus on students in the 30 percent group, link them with employers or apprentice programs and help them sharpen their career aims.
Traditionally, in such cases, schools pay the governmental entity for the increased security services.
In this case, the city of Evanston said “No, no, no, we don’t want any money,’’ Eddington said. “Rather we want you to create an internal system that prepares your students for the work force.
“That is, in my opinion, the level of coordination and commitment both groups (the city and the high school) have. We want to do what is best for these kids. How do we go about it?”