Police chief candidate shares her view of 21st century law enforcement


Maddie Leopardo/Iowa State Daily

Charlotte Evans, an applicant for the new Iowa State University Chief of Police, speaks to an audience during the open forum on Jan. 25. The forum was held in the Oak Room of the Memorial Union. 

Chris Anderson

Starting with ambitions to be a nurse, the third candidate for Iowa State police chief was taken down a different path through higher education law enforcement. 

Charlotte Evans, current chief of police at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, spoke about accomplishments throughout her career and her thoughts on policing in the 21st century during an open forum Wednesday at the Memorial Union.

Evans grew up in a small town in Nebraska and was one of the only members of her family to graduate high school, later becoming a first-generation college student.

Evans highlighted the challenges she faced early in life.

“I was up to my neck in loans, even with the Pell grants,” Evans said.

After deciding nursing was not for her, Evans dropped out of college and moved into real estate and property management.

She later decided on a whim to apply for a university police officer position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Evans fell in love with law enforcement.

As a police officer, she worked her way up to becoming an assistant chief and eventually chief of police at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Evans also explained what she believes the role of policing in the 21st century should be. 

“Are we as transparent as we need to be?” Evans asked. “Are we as transparent as we can be or are we living in this environment where we feel certain things need to be hidden in reports?

Evans has practiced transparency, including issues with the media, throughout her career.

“I’m a firm believer we need to be open to the media,” Evans said. “We need to share as much as we can.”

Evans told a story of how when she first started as chief of police, reporters would call multiple times a day asking for more information on incidents mentioned on the police blotter.

After Evans put a publicly available synopsis of the report online, media inquiries decreased to a few times a week.

Another issue facing law enforcement that Evans talked about was professionalism. Evans talked about the issues in society regarding the reputation of law enforcement.

“It takes one unprofessional act. That’s it, just one,” Evans said. “And it will destroy a department’s reputation for years.” 

One way Evans dealt with getting students to trust police was to have more officers in uniform around to interact with students and build trust.

At the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Evans instituted a program in which certain officers attended different student meetings.

This allowed students to build trust with the officers and the police department as a whole.

“The reality of it is trust got lost somewhere along the line,” Evans said.

Evans hopes that if she becomes chief of police at Iowa State, she can help build trust between students and law enforcement.

The next candidate, whose name will be announced later, will host an open forum at 2:50 pm. Feb. 10 in the Gold Room of the Memorial Union.