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Dominick's Police Outpost Met with Opposition from Neighborhood Group

Neighbors have mixed reactions and many questions about an Evanston Police Department outpost being built at the Evanston Plaza Dominick's.

The Evanston Police Department outpost currently being constructed within the Evanston Plaza Dominick’s grocery store was the topic of a heated debate at the Dewey-Darrow and Florence-Crain Neighbors night at the Perla Café, 1813 Dempster St.

Proposed in response to a rash of juvenile liquor thefts and in and around the store, , which contend that other preventative methods have not been adequately examined, that taxpayers should not have to fund the staffing of a security center in a private business, and that the outpost would foster a perception that the neighborhood is unsafe, scaring potential home-buyers and businesses away.

(Earlier: Residents first discuss the outpost.)

The outpost is being built on the store’s east end (the liquor department sits on the stores west end), and will be manned “frequently and periodically” by police officers throughout the day, though it is unclear what methodology they will use in monitoring the store. Dominick’s is paying for the outpost construction.

Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington spoke to the near 40 neighbors in attendance at the meeting, saying that the outpost’s purpose was to deter juveniles from getting a criminal record, as much as it was to improve neighborhood safety.

“I’m concerned about doing something prior to school coming back into session,” Eddington said. “While I’m waiting for all us adults to get along, I really need to do something for the kids… [To see] if I can avoid arresting young people, if I can avoid giving them a criminal record.”

He also openly addressed the perceived bad blood between Dominick’s and some of its neighbors.

“We’ve come to a point between Dominick’s and the neighborhood, I know there’s going to be no more progress,” Eddington said. “It’s just one of those things that got off on a bad foot. It got off on a bad foot 12 years ago.”

The tension stems from when the store originally sought out a liquor license soon after opening. Some neighbors argued that adding a liquor department in a store so close to Evanston Township High School would lead to juveniles stealing alcohol.

Meeting attendee Karen Bond related how the store initially promised to sell liquor from an enclosed area with a store employee monitoring the entrance at all times. However, she said the store soon became lax once they obtained their liquor license, leaving the liquor department entrance unsupervised, and eventually reconfigured the liquor section into a normal store aisle layout.

Bond said that before Dominick’s spent money to build a police outpost, they should have reconfigured the liquor section once more, returning to its previous layout, which she claimed allowed for far less theft.

“It came to a head when they took the walls down [around the liquor department],” Bond said. “[The police outpost] is kind of like when you take a pill to get rid of the side effects of another pill that you just took. Why don’t we go back and get rid of the original bad pill?”

Still, not everyone at the meeting had a negative opinion about the outpost.

Lydia Murman said that she felt the increased police presence could benefit the entire neighborhood.

“If you’re talking about economic development in a neighborhood that doesn’t have such a great reputation, it might not be such a bad idea to have an extra cop when you need one,” Murman said. “Personally, I love seeing the policemen up and down Dodge. I feel safer that way.”

But Dickelle Fonda said the outpost would be more like a scar on the neighborhood, giving it the unfortunate distinction of having the only Dominick’s requiring a police outpost to maintain safety.

Several neighbors in attendance spoke about their lack of faith in the Evanston Police Department. One woman said she had witnessed officers idly chatting in cars for a substantial period when they could have been patrolling. A man said he was disappointed that he no longer knew the police officers on his neighborhood beat. And another woman said that police failed to show up after she called them twice a few weeks earlier to complain about the noise coming from a house, the same home which later that night would be the scene of a physical fight ending in a man’s death.

Eddington said that though Dominick’s will continue to build the outpost, once completed the police department will closely monitor theft and violence statistics in the store and surrounding area to see whether the strategy works. In the meanwhile, he said he was open to alternative approaches.

“As time goes by, if we discover something better, more effective, more rational, I’m in,” Eddington said. “I’m not married to [the police outpost], but I am married to doing something to reduce the problem. If we come up collectively with a better something, I’m in.”

Regardless of what emerges, Fonda said she is upset with the process that lead to the creation of the outpost, saying that not enough city officials or neighbors knew about its implementation.

“This wasn’t a council decision,” Fonda said. “This was an administrative decision. When we spoke at City Council Monday night, aside from our alderman, basically the council didn’t know about this. We all have a right to speak about this…It requires a larger forum than what we’ve got here.”

No Dominick's representatives were present at Thursday's meeting.

The police outpost will be discussed further at next week’s 2nd Ward meeting.

The Evanston Police Department also has an outpost at 633 Howard St., though it is located in its own storefront.

Richard Schulte July 29, 2011 at 11:22 AM
I'd like to say thank you to the Evanston Police Department and its officers for the fine job that they do. The police have a very tough job. Thumbs up to the EPD. I wish that the citizens of Evanston would show their support their police department, rather than constantly finding fault.
Mary Rosinski July 29, 2011 at 12:10 PM
The question of using police in a private business to deter crime and how that decision came about seems to be the issue. I agree the police in Evanston are doing a fine job and I think that being on the street- walking around- meeting residents- knowing the kids, neighbors and business owners is where the presence should be not augmenting or being a deterrent of thefts in a private business thats what store security is for. Maybe if Domicks wants more police presence to act as a deterrent another idea would be for Domincks to sponsor a small store front which would also serve as a reading/library/computer space where kids and adults could go and the police could have a desk there meet the neighbors and their presence would be evident.
mij July 29, 2011 at 12:32 PM
We should create a police outpost at the main branch of the library and the North Branch on Central. Sounds like thats your proposal
Mary Rosinski July 29, 2011 at 12:36 PM
No I am not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that if there may be a better way to have more positve police presence in a neighborhood which does not involve a police outpost in a private store.
John C Thomson July 29, 2011 at 01:00 PM
This proposal died years ago but one that I advocated when I ran for City Council and others before me. The overwhelming vast majority of police officers do not live in Evanston. I know one police officer on the Evanston Police Department and I've lived here for 33 years. When I pass a police officer on the street and give a cordial hello sometimes I get one back but just as likely I'll get a blank stare as if they don't have time for me. The problem stems from the disconnect that exists from not having police live in your community. As long as this exists there will always be an us vs. them mentality and mostly that will come from the police attitude towards the community. If Dominicks needs more security for their store then they should contract with a security firm for just such a need.
Richard Schulte July 29, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Mr. Thomson, you have made a very good suggestion about community relations with our police force. Saying hello, smiling and waving to our police officers lets officers know that our citizens appreciate what they do for us. Best of all, saying hello, smiling and waving costs nothing. Police officers are our friends, not the enemy, and we need to teach that to our children. To quote former Mayor Richard J. Daley, "The police are not here to create disorder, they're there to preserve disorder." Well, you know, everybody new what he meant.
Lora Swanson July 29, 2011 at 03:32 PM
I thought they had planned to install a police outpost elsewhere in the mall, not inside the Dominick's. This area does seem to need a constant police presence, but perhaps they should have chosen a location next to McDonald's.
Mike Nazem July 29, 2011 at 04:59 PM
This is a depressed plaza due to high crime, Crime exist and is visible in the area. we need more police presence to deter crime. those who oppose the Dominick's proposal need to wake up and smell the roses. lets save our city from becoming another south side. crime must stop other wise every one will suffer, the people in the area must control and moniter thier young ones before they run in to problem with laws. I strongly refuse to let our value and standard be lowerd and diminished by thugs and criminals who think they can pray on weaks and defence less people . Those who oppose Police presence need to look in the mirror.
BRG July 29, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Thank you to the EPD for their hard work. I won't go to the Dominick's or McDonald's on Dodge and now the gas stations on Mcormick in Skokie.
mij July 29, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Would perfer the Kentucy Fried Chicken or the car wash for the outpost
mij July 29, 2011 at 05:24 PM
What does the "Evanston West Village Business Association " think. They have been pretty quiet.
Gay Riseborough July 29, 2011 at 07:02 PM
The Liquor Commission should be present at the next meeting about this and is probably authorized to require that Dominick's re-reconfigure their liquor department to meet the original requirements. Meanwhile, the police outpost could be let to stand until this is accomplished, say, six months.
mij July 29, 2011 at 07:07 PM
How about fencing it in and put in Body Scanners?
Richard Schulte July 29, 2011 at 07:21 PM
mij, the car wash would be a better location. we don't want our police officers to eat too much fried food. (and don't even suggest the donut shop.) :-)
mij July 29, 2011 at 08:51 PM
Some of the comments say it's Dominick's fault that people steal from the store.
Kip MacMillan July 30, 2011 at 07:01 PM
I retired from the EPD in 1988 after 27 years of service. Im sorry to hear the comment that a resident knows only one police officer after living there 30 years. Back in my day on the department I think most of us tried to be accessible, visible, and friendly. It seems from some of the comments that the Evanston I was born in and lived with my family has changed somewhat.
mij July 30, 2011 at 10:08 PM
How safe does an area look when a store has to but bars over its windows and fence in shopping areas. Where else would you put an outpost other then an area in mall where most businesses are located. If Dominick's wern't there drawing customers to that mall some of the other stores wouldn't be their either
Concerned Citizen July 31, 2011 at 04:22 AM
Why should the taxpayers of Evanston pay for Dominicks security? If Dominicks is having an issue as I believe they are; then we have a community problem that needs to be solved. Solving Dominicks security issue doesn't translate into a security solution for the residents of Evanston. A more enlighten approach is needed.
Richard Schulte July 31, 2011 at 04:44 AM
"A more enlighten[ed] approach is needed." One alternative would be for Dominick's to close their store at this location. Instead of kicking sand in Dominick's face, you should be grateful that the Dominick's store is still open.
Frank July 31, 2011 at 05:01 AM
I know and work with some EPD officers and they didn't have any say in this matter. The way I understand it, they will be encouraged to do their paperwork at the kiosk that Dominck's is building in the store. Yes, Dominick's (Safeway) is building the kiosk, not EPD! This didn't cost the taxpayers a dime! And there will not be any officers "assigned" to the store. They will just try and have a "presence" there. It is mostly because middle school and high school kids are stealing liquor that this is all happening. How about parents keeping tabs on their kids!
victoria smith July 31, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Frank, where did you get your information that it was middle school kids and high school kids stealing the booze ? I don't believe that that is totally correct. Maybe we need to have the police give us some stats on the age group that is stealing from Dominicks, not that it makes any difference because it is still a problem, but none the less. There is a way to configure that department I am sure. I am not so sure why people think that having a police outpost is going to scare people away from the store. The Dominicks on Clark across from Howard street has one and that Dominicks is always busy and so is the rest of the mall there. It is not Dominicks fault that people are stealing from the store. How silly of a thought is that! I would also like to know how many crimes have been noted in the Dominicks parking lot and inside the store a month to warrant such actions of protection.
mij July 31, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Never noticed a police outpost in the Dominicks on Howard in Chicago.
mij July 31, 2011 at 02:33 PM
The outpost is being built on the store’s east end (the liquor department sits on the stores west end), and will be manned “frequently and periodically” by police officers throughout the day, though it is unclear what methodology they will use in monitoring the store. Dominick’s is paying for the outpost construction.
mij July 31, 2011 at 02:35 PM
this is in article above: Proposed in response to a rash of juvenile liquor thefts and theft-related violence in and around the store, the outpost has come under heat from local neighborhood groups and business associations, which contend that other preventative methods have not been adequately examined, that taxpayers should not have to fund the staffing of a security center in a private business, and that the outpost would foster a perception that the neighborhood is unsafe, scaring potential home-buyers and businesses away.
Frank August 02, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Victoria, I have seen some of the surveilance video (HS & MS kids) and know of some of the high school kids that have done it (that would be the ones that got caught). Seeing is believing! And it was very frustrating as I work with some of these kids day in and day out trying to keep them out of trouble.
Frank August 02, 2011 at 03:02 AM
mjj, there is a CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) police outpost just east of the Dominick's on Howard street. I shop that store a lot and see a decent police presence there.
Frank August 02, 2011 at 03:55 AM
I think Richard is right when he mentions that we should thank Dominick's (and Safeway which did a major remodel on the store last year) for doing business in that location. What would happen to the mall and the whole corner of Dempster/Dodge if Dominick's pulled out like Steve and Barry's (OK, they went BK, but still didn't open there) and AJ Wright's (which Marshall's discontinued)? That corner would look even worse and there would probably be even more problems. Not to mention some lost tax dollars!
mij August 02, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Frank Thanks I goto Ballys there several days a week. I looked last time I was there and saw it just East of the Dominicks and not in the store itself.
Barbara Wolter August 03, 2011 at 09:26 PM
I have lived in Evanston for 24 years and the crime problem here has been an elephant in the living room. No one seems to have the guts to address the crime problem and PREVENT it before it happens. At this point, I am fed up with being politically correct in order to not offend anyone. Where there is a crime problem, set up a police outpost. The tax payer dollars spent on prevention with be far less than the dollars lost due to criminal behavior and damage. The Patch posts where the problems are located. "Evil flourishes when good men do nothing" , so let's quit the talk and walk the walk.
John Brinkmann September 13, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Great seeing a post here from Kip---For those who might not be familiar with the name, Kip MacMillan served Evanston with honor and integrity for many years...As for getting better acquainted with our police officers, there was a time when many of the city's cops lived here or nearby, and obviously became more of a well known presence in the community...It would be nice to see more of our cops live here, and I recall this was an issue addressed by the city council many years ago---but the reality of it remains the same today as it has for many years, how is a cop with family supposed to find affordable housing in Evanston on the salary they make?---Not a chance--that's a bummer...On a different note and with kudos to the EPD---I was highly impressed with the Evanston Police Honor Guard at this year's 4th of July parade---Sgt Dennis Prieto's cordial manner along with the Guard's exceptionally professional presence was a big highlight of the parade...And to Kip---if you see this post---drop me a note---I'd very much enjoy hearing from you---jbsawright@aol.com

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