City Government 101: The Many Departments That Police Evanston


Who polices Evanston?

It might seem like an obvious question, but the real answer goes far beyond who drives cruisers through city streets. A wide variety of departments at all levels – local, district, regional, state and federal – participate in city police operations.

Here is a summary of the nine major police departments and organizations active in Evanston.

local law enforcement

Evanston shares its local policing duties across multiple departments with different jurisdictions.

Evanston Police Department

The main law enforcement agency in the city is, of course, the Evanston Police Department. Started in 1863 with officer Robert Simpson, the department as of July 2022 had 128 sworn officers and 47 civilian support staff. These numbers are significantly lower than the budgeted staff of 154 officers and 53 civilians as the department continues to deal with a continuous shortage as directors retire or transfer to other departments.

The Evanston Police Department has several specialized divisions, including a traffic department, a community policing unit, and a special operations group focused on “illegal drug dealing and gang-related issues” and “current or frequent crime patterns.” . With the June 2021 retirement of Chief of Police Demitrous Cook, former Chief Richard Eddington was hired January 3 to lead the department in the interim as the city looks for a new permanent chief.

Northwest Police

Located at Northwestern’s Department of Safety and Security and headed by Chief Bruce Lewis, the University Police has law enforcement jurisdiction in and around the Evanston and Chicago campuses. As of November 2020, the department consisted of 38 sworn officers, 20 civilian community service officers, 43 contract security officers, and nine dispatch operators.

In Evanston, the University Police is headquartered at 1201 Davis St., and a city-university agreement extends its jurisdiction to the city limits of Evanston to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Lake Street to the south, and Asbury Avenue and Green Bay Road to the West. NU officers have the full powers of municipal officers, except that the city assumes jurisdiction over all death investigations.

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