In the 165-year history of Evanston, Illinois, Schenita Stewart is the first Black woman to hold the position of Police Chief after being sworn in.
Daniel Biss, the mayor of Evanston, and the municipal administration meticulously eliminated 10 candidates over the course of the previous six months before selecting Schenita Stewart.
“These have been complicated years, complicated years in the law enforcement profession, complicated years in the Evanston Police Department. Chief Stewart is the complete package. We didn’t have to sacrifice either professionalism or skill or deep experience or knowledge of Evanston and deep roots here,” Mayor Biss said, according to ABC7 Chicago.
Stewart grew up in Evanston and graduated from Evanston Township High School with her twin sister Schonella Stewart, who was just also recently sworn in as the commander of the Oak Park Police Department.
Schenita Stewart has been in law enforcement for over 2 decades
Schenita Stewart, who has been in law enforcement for 23 years, started her career in law enforcement as a patrol officer in Lincolnwood in 1999 and became its deputy chief in 2018. Prior to her appointment as police chief, Stewart served as deputy chief in East Dundee since 2001.
Now, Stewart replaces Richard Eddington, who was police chief in Evanston for 12 years. Stewart takes on the role during the time that the city saw an increase of 27% in crimes against persons such as assaults and batteries and 25.5% in property crimes.
Aside from that, Evanston’s police force is also currently short-staffed with only 24 officers. Stewart said she is ready to work with the challenges is facing.
“Dealing with staffing. Dealing with morale and dealing with the partnership with the community is what’s most important. Getting back to building that partnership and building that trust back with the community,” Stewart said.