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Police Departments Join Forces

Northwestern, Evanston police team up to curb crime, keep area safe

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November 18, 2009
University Police officer Jude Oraegbu (left) and Evanston Police officer Ron Blumenberg on the Northwestern campus. Photo by Peter Barreras
On most Friday and Saturday nights in the spring and fall, an Evanston police officer joins a Northwestern University police officer in what they call a "party car," and together they patrol the streets surrounding the University. On football Saturdays, Evanston Police help the University Police move traffic, and during a crisis, the Evanston Police Department calls on the University Police to back them up.   

Though most people in the Evanston community don't realize it, the Northwestern University and Evanston Police Departments have been working seamlessly together for years under a mutual aid agreement first adopted by the City of Evanston in 1992. This agreement was formalized in 2000, making it a City ordinance.   

Under the agreement, the two police departments come to each other's aid both on a daily basis and during emergencies and work jointly on special projects. The agreement also allows University Police to make arrests, issue traffic citations and write parking tickets in certain areas of Evanston.

"Northwestern and the City of Evanston have a lot of mutual interests, and it just makes total sense that we would work together to make the community safer and back each other up," says Lucile Krasnow, special assistant for community relations at Northwestern.

Both police departments value the strong partnership and share information freely. A University officer attends the Evanston Police Department's weekly meetings, and the University Police keep the Evanston officers abreast of important issues on campus.

"We've established a great working relationship over the years," says Evanston Police Deputy Chief Tom Cabanski.

"We really work hard to support each other," agrees University Police Deputy Chief Dan McAleer.

One recent joint project was to buy, install and maintain emergency call telephones. Last year, Northwestern donated nine emergency call telephones to the City of Evanston and paid for them to be installed at various city locations, including "L" stations and in residential neighborhoods near the University. The Evanston Police Department currently maintains the telephones and answers the calls from its dispatch center.

"It was a win-win situation," says Krasnow. "The telephones not only provide additional safety for Evanston residents but also serve University students who travel throughout the community in the evening hours."

Other joint endeavors include patrolling off-campus housing during Thanksgiving and winter breaks to minimize burglary, participating in joint DUI road blocks and helping each other with traffic issues.

University police officers have also patrolled Evanston streets when the Evanston police have been called to a serious incident. "The Evanston police have called us and asked us to take over police beats until the officers are able to get their units back up," McAleer says.

Being able to work together and rely on one another not only benefits the two departments, but it also benefits the Evanston community as a whole, says McAleer.

Cabanski agrees. "Because they help us patrol the downtown area and the areas where they have off-campus housing, we can concentrate on other efforts, and vice-versa, we help them with traffic problems and other criminal matters," he says. "By working together, we make the community better for everyone."