PTA Council shared the following information.
The City Manager of Evanston is proposing to cut all social services from the Evanston Police Department.
This would dissolve the positions of 3 Victim Advocates (the people who aid the victim in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, death notifications, orders of protection, and the victim’s family in homicide cases).
This would also dissolve the position of Youth Services Counselor. This person provides family counseling, runs the diversion program for alternatives to juvenile arrests and court referrals, and coordinates the Restorative Justice Program. Restorative Justice is a victim-centered response to crime that allows the victim, the referred youth, their families and representatives from the community to address harm. Restorative Justice emphasizes the importance of holding youth accountable to the individuals and the community they have harmed, and restoring the emotional and material losses of victims while providing a range of opportunities for dialogue and problem-solving to crime victims, youth, families and support persons. This process offers opportunities for competency development, reparation, and healing for the entire community. The goal of the program is to divert youth from the judiciary process while helping them right the wrong that they caused. The Youth Services Counselor also provided training for District 65 Schools to facilitate these Peacemaking circles where this process continues today.
City Manager, Wally Bobkiewicz, is proposing that these positions move from the Evanston Police Department to the Department of Health and Human Services. Under this proposal:
3 full-time positions and 1 part-time position in the EPD could turn into 1 full-time position and 3 part-time positions with Health and Human Services. All of these EPD employees have been pink slipped. Their positions will cease to exist on 12/31/17. They will receive a severance and have to apply for the different and reduced, new positions.
At first this may appear to be simply shifting titles around to streamline budgets, but moving social services away from the EPD will undoubtedly lead to less utilization of these services by the EPD. The Youth Services Provider at the Evanston Police Department shares constant communication and confidentiality with officers in addition to having access to police reports and making pre-arrest referrals for counseling. Why move that away from the EPD?
There is no guarantee that these positions will exist under their new department title, nor that the employees who are skilled in their background and practice will retain any position, nor that the Restorative Justice program will continue. This is exactly how good programs die: when administrative shifts and reduction of job positions lead to the edging out of qualified personnel who know how to run them. The City Manager’s proposal does not recognize the impact that disassociating these services from the Evanston Police Department will have on the community.
The City of Evanston and the community is calling for more alternatives to arrest for juveniles. Our entire society needs more streamlined access to mental health services in conjunction with its police departments, not less.
Call on City Manager, Wally Bobkiewicz, (email@example.com; 847.866.2936) to retain social service positions at the Evanston Police Department. Tell your Alderperson how you feel because the Council votes next month on this proposal. If you have been positively impacted by any of the services above, please include that story in your communication. Please also feel free to share this email.
p.s. the Restorative Justice program is the grandfather of the Sharing Circle program in District 65