Credentialed Highland Park cop likes intimacy of local policing
Highland Park Police Detective Bill Evans answers questions in the headquarters. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
OCCUPATION: Highland Park police detective
Updated: January 9, 2013 1:02PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Highland Park Police Detective Bill Evans had a J.D. behind his name when he joined the force 12 years ago as a patrol officer.
But he’s never had much interest in practicing law.
“I thought it would be a good education,” said Evans, who believes the three years he spent at DePaul University Law School has helped him in the job. Evans this fall was reassigned to adult investigations, after spending two years as the police liaison to Highland Park High School.
Q: Why did you choose to go into law enforcement?
A: I come from a history of family members who are involved in law enforcement and I consider it a very service-oriented job. I was definitely drawn to that. Policing at the local level is very intimate in the way that you are able to put down roots and make very strong connections with people through the help that you give them. You become almost a known entity because of the work that you do.
Q: Three years of law school is quite a commitment of time, energy and expense. What were you thinking?
A: I saw it as a very versatile degree. I do keep my license active. Even though I am not practicing, you could still say I’m in the legal field. It definitely makes me more analytical, and allows me to look at a set of facts and see how those facts may play out down the road. Nothing is done in isolation. In the police profession, there is definitely a move toward more education, whether it be for initial entry or promotion within the ranks. We have a lot of officers who are pursuing their bachelor’s degrees and some who are pursuing their master’s degrees.
Q: Police officers and criminal defense attorneys are often portrayed as natural adversaries on television. Given your legal background, do you see it that way?
A: As police officers, we are sworn to uphold the Constitution and part of that is the protection of individual rights. On the back end, I would want the criminal defendant to have a vigorous and robust defense. I think that is an absolute and fundamental part of our process.
Q: As the police liaison to Highland Park High School, what did your job entail?
A: When someone hears a police officer is at the school, what comes to mind might be something punitive. Many times, the issues I would get involved in were social service issues or matters for the Department of Children and Family Services.
Because of dealing with those entities on a regular basis, we can provide some guidance outside of the traditional police role with students, parents or faculty who are experiencing difficulty. At times, I would be invited by a teacher to speak to students.