The Daily Northwestern
Recent episodes of gun violence in Evanston have spurred conversation about the efficacy of the city’s community policing initiative, particularly among 5th Ward residents.
Evanston Police Department’s Problem Solving Team specializes in facilitating relationships between officers assigned to a ward and its residents, said Francesca Henderson, PST officer of the 3rd and 4th Wards. She said the program was launched in 1995 to establish community between residents and police officers.
“We have been successful in building partnerships between the businesses and citizens of our wards,” Henderson said. “Our department is very transparent too, and that’s always needed to build that trust between a community and its police.”
Henderson said community patrols allow for officers to spend more time on individual calls, a privilege not always afforded to the average officer due to the sheer number of calls police receive. Officers assigned to a specific ward have more time to devote attention to specific issues in a ward that would ordinarily take much longer to resolve, she said.
For Evanston resident and local activist for gun control Carolyn Murray, whose 19-year-old son was shot and killed more than three years ago, however, the program’s efforts should be called into question following a recent bout of shots fired incidents in the city between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2 and the killing of resident Benjamin “Bo” Bradford-Mandujano on Jan. 19.
Murray said that although the program has had positive feedback among some residents, the community should be critical of the impact community policing has on reducing crime.
“I really don’t think that (the initiative) is a full effort that will service the community with the increase of gun violence that we’ve been seeing for the past year,” she said. “We shouldn’t see this influx of gun violence and a homicide in January.”
Murray said she believes there is significant work …