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City announces 3 police chief candidates, forum on Sept. 8

After 14 months of searching, Evanston has a few candidates to consider for his next permanent police chief.

The city announced Friday that it has identified three outside candidates for the position, which has been filled by two interim chiefs since former chief Demitrous Cook retired in June 2021.

A virtual town hall hosted by Sol Anderson, president and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation, will take place on Zoom from 6 to 9 pm on Thursday, Sept. 8. Each candidate will be given one hour to introduce themselves to the community and answer questions.

The three candidates are Migdala Bulnes, Joshua Hunt and Schenita Stewart.

CPD Deputy Chief Migdalia Bulnes, in a CPD YouTube video from October 2020. Credit: Chicago Police Department

Migdalia Bulnes has served as the Chicago Police Department’s Deputy Chief of Recruitment and Retention since December 2021, previously serving as Deputy Chief of Detectives and joining the department in 1998. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command, and holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Lewis University.

CCSAO Investigations Bureau Chief Joshua Hunt, testing in April 2018. Credit: WSAV

Joshua Hunt has served as Chief of the Investigations Bureau in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office since June 2022, previously serving as Deputy Chief and Commander in the same bureau. He is also a graduate of NU’s School of Police Staff and Command, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia Southern University.

East Dundee Deputy Chief Schenita Stewart, in a press release from January 2021. Credit: Village of East Dundee

Shenita Stewart has served as Deputy Chief of the East Dundee Police Department since January 2021, previously serving as Deputy Chief of the Lincolnwood Police Department where she spent most of her career. She holds a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Chicago State University, and was a team member on the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force (NORTAF) from 2004 to 2018.

The announcement comes about six weeks after Fourth Ward Council member Jonathan Nieuwsma told a July 5 ward meeting that search was narrowed to nine or 10 viable candidates. He told residents that while council members were involved in the search, the final hiring decision rests solely with the City Manager.

After Cook’s retirement, then-Deputy Chief Aretha Barnes was appointed interim chief and the city began a “community-driven, nationwide search” for a permanent successor. When Barnes later announced she would retire at the beginning of 2022, the city brought Richard Eddington, who served as chief from 2008 to 2019, out of retirement to be the next interim.

Several public forums were held in May to gather input on what community members want from the next chief. Attendance was not huge but suggestions included keeping “an actual open-door policy,” showing no favoritism for specific communities or races, and practicing de-escalation in a “peacemaker” role.

A major issue awaiting the next chief is EPD’s ongoing staff shortage, which recently led to the department temporarily reassigning officers and reducing investigative services. The department currently has 27 vacancies for sworn officers, according to City Manager Luke Stowe.

Questions for the town hall can be submitted online until 5 pm Wednesday, Sept. 7.

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