WBEZ | law enforcement http://www.wbez.org/tags/law-enforcement Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Officer's death highlights need for trauma center in Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/officers-death-highlights-need-trauma-center-northwest-indiana-110790 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trauma-NWI-crop.jpg" title="The hearse carrying the body of fallen Merrillville, Indiana Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz passes by the police station where he worked. Some say Schultz’s death highlights the need for advanced trauma care in Northwest Indiana. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div><p>On a gloomy Wednesday afternoon this week, dozens of onlookers lined the streets outside the Town Hall and Police Station in Merrillville, Indiana.<br /><br />They were there to honor Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz, the town&rsquo;s first officer to die in the line of duty.</p><p>A long string of squad cars with flashing blue lights escorted the 24-year-old&rsquo;s body on its way back from the Cook County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office in Chicago.</p><p>Carol Miano, the president of the Merrillville Town Council, wiped away tears as they passed in front of her.</p><p>&ldquo;He was sworn in in my first term as president and he died in my second term as president,&rdquo; Miano said. &ldquo;Everybody is heartbroken. The residents, everyone in this community.&rdquo;<br /><br />Schultz was shot in the head late Friday evening while responding to a call at an condominium complex in Merrillville.</p><p>The Lake County, Indiana Coroner&rsquo;s Office reported 33-year-old Michael Hrnciar died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he shot Schultz. Police were called to a condo where Hrnciar had been evicted but was trying to return. Hrnciar was later found to be wearing body armor.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trauma-NWI-2.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Merrillville Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz is shown in his police uniform and as a member of the Grizzlies football team for Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. (Photo provided by the Merrillville Police Department)" />After Schultz was shot, he was first taken to Methodist Hospital Southlake in Merrillville. But in order to get advanced care, Schultz had to be transported nearly an hour west to Illinois.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s because the nearest Level 1 trauma center is Advocate Christ Medical Center in south suburban Oak Lawn.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s unclear whether Officer Schultz could&rsquo;ve been saved by more urgent care. But what is urgently clear, according to some local officials, including Miano, is that Northwest Indiana needs much better trauma care.</p><p>Miano believes the state of Indiana should put money behind that effort.<br /><br />&ldquo;Because it will help out every resident in the area in Northwest Indiana,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Getting access to trauma care for a critically injured person could be a matter of life or death.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s important about quality care in that first hour - the golden hour - whereas if the person is not doing well, their chances of survival decreases as the length of time that the surgeon gets on the scene elapses,&rdquo; says Dr. Michael McGee, Emergency Department doctor and Medical Director for Methodist Hospitals.</p><p>Methodist Hospital operates two campus; one in Gary and another 15 miles away in Merrillville.</p><p>Officer Schultz was transported initially to the hospital&rsquo;s Merrillville campus before moving on to Advocate Christ Medical Center.</p><p>&ldquo;That definitely was an unfortunate situation and you have to have special neurosurgeons who were there to do what needs to be done. And even when he got to where he went, which was a level 1 trauma center in Advocate Christ, at that point, for those kinds of injuries, they&#39;re so severe, there&rsquo;s really not much that can be done,&rdquo; McGee said.</p><p>But Jennifer Mullen says regardless of Schultz&rsquo;s condition, that doesn&rsquo;t lessen the need for a trauma center in Northwest Indiana.</p><p>&ldquo;We see industrial accidents, we&rsquo;re so close to the industrial corridor along the lakeshore. We are geographically located between three major highways,&rdquo; said Mullen, a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital who is also coordinator of its trauma services. &ldquo;We certainly have a high incidence of crime in Northwest Indiana so the population we see trauma wise is varied,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The cost of establishing and maintaining a trauma center is expensive.</p><p>Even in Illinois there are large voids: Chicago&rsquo;s south side, the far south suburbs and even in downstate southeastern Illinois.</p><p>In Northwest Indiana, Dr. McGee&rsquo;s been pushing for years to expand trauma care as part of a state task force.</p><p>But he says the money it takes to pay for for specially trained nurses, physician specialists who are on constant call or stay at the hospital, along with state-of-the-art equipment can run pretty high for hospitals.</p><p>&ldquo;Unlike other states, that have some kind of tax -- in terms of automobile, alcohol, smoking, that will go toward trauma have funds set up -- our state does not have that,&rdquo; McGee said. &ldquo;We got people all over the area now who want to be a trauma center but there&rsquo;s no teeth in the fact that there&rsquo;s no money to become a very independent and sufficient trauma center.&rdquo;</p><p>To become a trauma center, a hospital must first decide if it&rsquo;s a financially viable option, said Arthur L. Logsdon, Assistant Commissioner for the Indiana State Department of Health.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Hospitals have to make the decision as to why they want to be a trauma center,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The state of Indiana has historically ranked near the bottom of the nation for access to trauma care for residents. But the state is trying to change that by establishing a trauma care network and working with hospitals to try to achieve trauma level status.</p><p>That assistance, however, does not come with state funding.</p><p>Still, Logsdon said there are twice as many trauma centers in the state today compared to just two years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;The 19 that we have, have all done it on their own dime. There have been no state dollars that have gone into that development,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And those 19 now include Methodist Hospital&rsquo;s Gary facility. Just this week the hospital celebrated its designation as a Level 3 trauma center with a visit from local and state dignitaries, hospital brass and others.&nbsp;</p><p>Level 3 is not as advanced as Level 1 or Level 2 centers in Indianapolis or Chicago, but Dr. McGee says it&rsquo;s a start.</p><p>&ldquo;About 85 percent to 90 percent of the patients that we have that involved trauma we can take care of them but there&rsquo;s a few that still need the services of a level 1 trauma center,&rdquo; he said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trauma-NWI-4.jpg" title="The Trauma Area at Methodist Hospital in Gary, Indiana which is now designated as a Level 3 Trauma Center, the first for Northwest Indiana. (Photo by WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div><p>Injuries sustained by fallen Merrillville Police Officer Nickolaus Schultz would&rsquo;ve still required transfer to an out-of-area Level 1 trauma center.</p><p>Longtime Indiana State Rep. Charlie Brown, a Democrat from Gary, has been trying to get Indiana to provide funding for just such a trauma center to help offset costs.</p><p>&ldquo;That takes a lot of money and so there is going to need some partnerships and coordination in order for that to occur,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;We are all aware that there is a need for state involvement in the whole trauma system and it&rsquo;s moving in that direction.&rdquo;</p><p>But it&rsquo;s moving more slowly than Dr. McGee would like.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think the people in the community need to talk and lobby to their politicians, to their representatives and basically advocate for some kind of tax that can go toward funding for trauma,&rdquo; McGee said.</p><p>Funeral services for Nicholaus Schultz are scheduled for Monday. He will be laid to rest in his hometown of Lowell, Indiana.</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/officers-death-highlights-need-trauma-center-northwest-indiana-110790 Chicago police commander stripped of power, faces felony charges http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-commander-stripped-power-faces-felony-charges-110720 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Evans 1tightcrop_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Aug. 28, 10 p.m.</em></p><p>Prosecutors say a veteran Chicago police commander accused of misconduct chased a suspect into an abandoned building, stuck a gun down his throat and held a stun gun to his groin.</p><p>Assistant Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Lauren Freeman says DNA found on the gun is a match for the suspect who alleges he was abused during a January 2013 arrest.</p><p>Commander Glenn Evans, 52, is facing felony charges related to an excessive-force complaint filed by the man arrested.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans">Read all our coverage about Cmdr. Glenn Evans</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">Evans has been on the Chicago police force for 28 years. He climbed the ranks, earning awards for valor and merit while serving in some of the city&rsquo;s toughest neighborhoods. Evans also gained a reputation among the rank-and-file, and residents in the districts he served, as an aggressive, hard-working cop.</p><p dir="ltr">Dozens of excessive-force complaints have been filed against Evans over the years, but none quite like those alleged &nbsp;in bond court Thursday.</p><p>Evans was on patrol in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, where he was serving as district commander at the time. He was responding to a report of shots fired in the area when he saw a man he believed to be armed. Evans announced his office and approached the man, who took off on foot. Evans pursued the suspect into an abandoned building--there, he found an unarmed Rickey Williams, 22, in a doorless closet.</p><p>As WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-leaves-commander-post-despite-assault-allegation-dna-match-110581">first reported</a>, an Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) investigation alleges Evans proceeded to stick his .45 caliber, Smith and Wesson, semi-automatic pistol deep down the Williams&#39; throat while holding a taser to his groin.</p><p>Assistant State&rsquo;s Attorney Freeman spoke in support of bond Thursday. She said as Evans allegedly held both weapons to the victim, he threatened to kill him if Williams did not tell him where the guns were. No guns were recovered at the scene, but Williams was charged with a misdemeanor reckless conduct offense, which was later dismissed.</p><p>Within three days of the incident, Williams had shared his story--and his DNA--with &nbsp;IPRA. The sample was to be compared to a swab of Evans&rsquo; gun, which was taken on February 1, 2013. It was a couple of months before the samples were sent off to the crime lab for analysis. According to Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the results did not come back until the following April.</p><p>&ldquo;As I always say, DNA results are not obtained in 30 minutes like you see on TV,&rdquo; Alvarez said.</p><p>After IPRA received the results, it turned over its findings to Alvarez&rsquo;s office for criminal investigation. It also recommended to the police department that Evans be stripped of his police powers. That didn&rsquo;t happen until Wednesday, when Evans was officially charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><p>Evans did not speak at his bond hearing Thursday. But his attorney, Laura Morask, vehemently denied the allegations, calling the investigation &quot;incredibly flawed.&quot;</p><p>She says neither IPRA nor the state&rsquo;s attorney&rsquo;s office asked for Evans&rsquo; account of the incident in their respective investigations.</p><p>Asked whether her office had interviewed Evans, Alvarez said, &ldquo;I won&rsquo;t comment on any statements that were, or were not, made.&rdquo;</p><p>It&#39;s another blow to a department dogged by a reputation for misconduct. Evans is among more than 660 officers who, according to recently released police records, had at least 11 misconduct complaints during a recent five-year period. The records show Evans was not disciplined in any of the incidents.</p><p>Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who promoted Evans in 2012 and has praised him, vigorously defended him at a news conference Monday. Before the bond hearing Thursday, McCarthy issued a release saying that if the alleged actions are true they are &quot;unacceptable.&quot;</p><p>Evans left court without having to pay bail. Judge Laura Sullivan set a recognizance bond of $100,000, which means Evans doesn&rsquo;t have to post bail unless he fails to appear in court. He didn&rsquo;t have to speak with reporters either. The commander, and his attorneys, slipped out a back exit.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-commander-stripped-power-faces-felony-charges-110720 Immigration enforcement program faces novel suit http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ColoradoFingerprinting.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 214px; height: 250px; " title="A sheriff’s deputy in Centennial, Colo., prepares to fingerprint a suspect as part of booking into the Arapahoe County Justice Center. Secure Communities runs the fingerprints of everyone booked into jail against immigration records. (AP File/Chris Schneider)" />We&rsquo;ve been hearing a lot about how immigration enforcement intersects with local law enforcement. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. Now we&rsquo;ll hear from our West Side bureau about a suburban Chicago man who got tangled up with immigration enforcement after a drug arrest. He has filed a suit that offers a novel challenge to one of President Obama&rsquo;s key immigration-enforcement programs.</p><p>MITCHELL: There&rsquo;s no doubt James Makowski of Clarendan Hills did something illegal. In 2010 police caught him with heroin and he pleaded guilty to that. A judge approved him for a state-run boot camp. But that&rsquo;s not where Makowski ended up.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I thought I would be home in 120 days but -- then after I get a note back from a counselor, after I&rsquo;d asked about when I&rsquo;d be shipping to boot camp -- she said that I was ineligible for boot camp due to an immigration detainer.</p><p>MITCHELL: That&rsquo;s basically a flag in his file from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE. So . . .</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I got sent to the maximum-security penitentiary in Pontiac.</p><p>MITCHELL: And he stayed for about two months. How did this happen? It comes down to an ICE program called Secure Communities. In that program, FBI fingerprint data about people booked at local jails get run against immigration data. If a check yields a match, ICE can issue one of its detainers. The point is to catch people in the criminal justice system who are not authorized to be in the U.S. and eventually deport them. The thing is, Makowski had every right to be in the country.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I feel like I got punished twice for what I did in my past.</p><p>MITCHELL: Makowski&rsquo;s detention was based on faulty information. He was born in India and adopted by a U.S. family. When he was 1, the government granted him citizenship. But &mdash; at age 22, when he got picked up on the heroin charge &mdash; the feds didn&rsquo;t have their records right. So, Makowski stayed in that maximum-security pen before authorities straightened things out and let him into the boot camp. On Tuesday, Makowski filed a federal suit over all this. Defendants include top officials at the FBI, ICE and their parent departments. Makowski claims that when the FBI shared data with ICE &mdash; and when ICE didn&rsquo;t keep track of his citizenship status &mdash; they violated his rights under the U.S. Privacy Act. Legal experts say the suit appears to be the first challenge to Secure Communities under that law. Makowski&rsquo;s attorneys include Mark Fleming of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center.</p><p>FLEMING: There [are] simple ways in which both the FBI and ICE could be in compliance with the Privacy Act.</p><p>MITCHELL: Fleming says ICE could, for example, interview suspected immigration violators before slapping detainers on them.</p><p>FLEMING: Unfortunately, the system does not provide those basic checks right now and, so, there are many more U.S. citizens that are getting wrapped up into this.</p><p>MITCHELL: Officials at ICE and the departments of Justice and Homeland Security did not answer our questions about the suit Tuesday (see&nbsp;<a href="#note">UPDATE</a>). An FBI spokesman said his agency does not comment about pending litigation outside the courtroom. But a supporter of tougher immigration controls doubts that the Privacy Act protects U.S. citizens from what Makowski endured. Jessica Vaughan directs policy studies for a Washington group called the Center for Immigration Studies. Vaughan says the FBI and ICE share the fingerprint information for legitimate law-enforcement purposes.</p><p>VAUGHAN: Mistakes can be made. But that is not necessarily a reason to throw out the whole system.</p><p>MITCHELL: Vaughan says it&rsquo;s important to keep something else in mind.</p><p><a name="note"></a></p><p>VAUGHAN: The individual who&rsquo;s filing this suit would not have had anything to worry about had he not been convicted of a serious crime to begin with. He was convicted of a drug crime.</p><p>MITCHELL: Convicted he was. But Makowski says no one should have to serve extra time behind bars because of errors in immigration records.</p><p><em>After a deadline for Tuesday&rsquo;s broadcast of this story, ICE provided this statement: &ldquo;The information-sharing partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI serves as the cornerstone of Secure Communities, and fulfills a mandate required by federal law. This information sharing does not violate the Privacy Act. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is evaluating the allegations contained in the lawsuit; however, we do not comment on pending litigation.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>The ICE statement continues: &ldquo;In December ICE announced a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline &mdash; (855) 448-6903 &mdash; that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services are available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern), seven days a week. ICE personnel collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office for immediate action.&rdquo;</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Jul 2012 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 Commissioners take aim at immigration ordinance http://www.wbez.org/story/commissioners-take-aim-county-immigration-law-95607 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-18/Schneider.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-18/Schneider.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 264px; height: 276px;" title="Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, authored one of the proposals. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">A debate about a Cook County ordinance that frees some inmates wanted by immigration authorities could get hotter. At its meeting Wednesday, the County Board agreed to consider two proposed amendments that would scale back the ordinance. Commissioners with opposing views of the measure also vowed to press the county’s top law-enforcement officials to testify about it at an unscheduled hearing.</p><p>The ordinance effectively bars compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, which are requests that the county’s jail hold specified inmates up to two business days after they post bond or complete their criminal cases.</p><p>One of the proposed amendments, introduced Wednesday by Timothy Schneider (R-Bartlett), seems to require compliance with the detainers for inmates listed on the federal Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and for inmates charged with — though not necessarily convicted of — various felonies. Those felonies include certain drug offenses, crimes resulting in great bodily harm, and “forcible felonies,” which Illinois defines as involving the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.</p><p>“I know that my amendment will not pass,” Schneider told commissioners during their meeting. “But maybe with some input from some of the stakeholders, something will come out of this and we will pass a common-sense measure that creates greater justice for victims of crimes and also to improve public safety for the residents of Cook County.”</p><p>The other proposed amendment, filed by Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park) and John Daley (D-Chicago), would give the sheriff leeway to honor the detainers.</p><p>“The sheriff should have greater discretion on holding people that pose a threat to society,” Silvestri said before the meeting. “The sheriff, as the chief law enforcement officer of the county, should develop a procedure for determining which individuals to keep and which to release.”</p><p>That idea is not going over well with the ordinance’s author, Jesús García (D-Chicago). “It would bring back a flawed program that has not succeeded in apprehending dangerous criminals, and has instead resulted in the detention and sometimes deportation of people with minor infractions, victims of crime, and even U.S. citizens,” a statement from García’s office said. “It would give the sheriff unbridled discretion to comply with ICE detainers.”</p><p>Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to send both proposals to the board’s Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, chaired by Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who supports the ordinance.</p><p>Sheriff Tom Dart’s office did not return a call about the proposals, but he has quietly urged commissioners to require compliance with ICE detainers for inmates who meet any of several criteria. Dart listed some of the criteria in a December letter to Silvestri: “[It] is my hope that you agree that those charged with a ‘forcible felony,’ those who have a history of convictions and those on a Homeland Security Terrorist Watch List should be held on an ICE detainer rather than released immediately.”</p><p>State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office did not return a call about the proposals.</p><p>The ordinance, approved in a 10-5 vote last September, has received increasing public attention in recent weeks as news outlets have focused on a convicted felon who was charged and jailed in a fatal Logan Square hit-and-run incident last year and named on an ICE detainer. After the ordinance passed, officials say, the inmate posted bond, walked free and went missing.</p><p>A letter this month from ICE Director John Morton to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cites that case. “This ordinance undermines public safety in Cook County and hinders ICE’s ability to enforce the nation’s immigration laws,” the letter says.</p><p>Last week Preckwinkle said the hit-and-run suspect’s release “outraged” her, but she has stuck behind the ordinance. Instead of reconsidering it, she proposed a study of the county’s bail bond system for all criminal cases — no matter whether the inmate’s name appears on an ICE detainer. On Wednesday, the board approved the proposal, under which the county’s Judicial Advisory Council will undertake the study. That five-member panel, chaired by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, would recommend ways to improve pretrial services so judges can make better-informed decisions on bond amounts, according to the proposal.</p><p>ICE took custody of 1,665 Cook County inmates in 2010 and 721 in 2011, according to Dart’s office. Morton’s letter says ICE has lodged detainers against another 268 county inmates since the ordinance’s approval but the sheriff’s office has disregarded them.</p><p>The ordinance prohibits the jail from honoring the detainers unless the federal government agrees in advance to pay for the extended confinement — something ICE says it doesn’t do. García and others who back the ordinance say the detainers violated inmates’ due-process rights and eroded community trust in local police. A federal court ruling in Indiana last summer called compliance with the detainers “voluntary.”</p><p>The ordinance has reverberated beyond Cook County. In October, California’s Santa Clara County adopted a similar measure.</p></p> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 13:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/commissioners-take-aim-county-immigration-law-95607 Illinois state officials review abuse of disabled placards http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-state-officials-review-abuse-disabled-placards-94297 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-22/3617154784_e29e433dff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is looking to increase penalties for drivers who illegally park in spots reserved for the disabled.</p><p>Starting in January, White said his office will look into increasing fines for those who illegally park in reserved spots without a placard and for those who use fraudulent placards. This comes after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed fine increases for those who use fake, stolen or altered disability placards to park.&nbsp;</p><p>"I think it's a violation of all laws of human decency for you to be able bodied but yet you want to take advantage of a program that has been set aside for those in need," said White.</p><p>White said he's considering upping the fines for illegally using disability permits to more than $2,000. Current fines for motorists start at $350 for parking without a placard, and a $500 fine and 30-day driver's license suspension for those illegally using one.</p><p>White also said his office will again increase enforcement of disability parking rules at malls during the holiday season. Secretary of State police will be outposted at malls in Schaumburg, Rockford, Springfield and Marion on Black Friday and through the weekend. A spokesperson for White's office says this is the first year Secretary of State police will target several malls on Black Friday since the upped enforcement began in 2005.&nbsp;</p><p>The spokesperson said the office's police force will move mall-by-mall throughout the state through the remainder of the year.</p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 22:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-state-officials-review-abuse-disabled-placards-94297 County commissioner pulls bill to free inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/Garcia.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Legislation that would have required Cook County to free some jail inmates wanted by immigration authorities is dead for now.<br> <br> Commissioner Jesús García, D-Chicago, withdrew his bill at Wednesday’s County Board meeting. “We want to rethink it,” he said afterwards.<br> <br> The measure would have made the county the nation’s largest jurisdiction to end blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Those are requests by the federal agency for local jails to keep some inmates 48 hours beyond what their criminal cases require.<br> <br> García’s bill would have ended the county’s compliance unless the inmate had been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors and unless the county got reimbursed.<br> <br> Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she would back releasing some inmates wanted by ICE but wants to hear from State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “We hope to have a written opinion from the state’s attorney that will allow us to proceed,” she said after the board meeting.<br> <br> A letter from Alvarez to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office back in 2009 said the jail “must comply with any ICE detainers.”<br> <br> But ICE officials in recent months have said there is no legal requirement for jails to comply. Dart told WBEZ this month he planned to ask Alvarez for an updated opinion.<br> <br> Alvarez’s office hasn’t answered WBEZ’s questions about whether she will revisit that opinion.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/county-commissioner-pulls-bill-free-inmates-wanted-ice-89730 Bill would free Cook County inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/cook-County-Jail-2_Flickr_Zol87.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Cook County commissioner is quietly proposing an ordinance that would require the county’s massive jail to release some inmates wanted by immigration authorities.</p><p>Sponsored by Jesús García, D-Chicago, the measure would prohibit the jail from holding inmates based on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement request unless they have been convicted of a felony or two misdemeanors, and unless the county gets reimbursed.</p><p>The legislation’s preamble says complying with the ICE requests, known as detainers, “places a great strain on our communities by eroding the public trust that local law enforcement depends on to secure the accurate reporting of criminal activity and to prevent and solve crimes.”</p><p>The jail now holds detainees requested by ICE for up to 48 hours after their criminal cases would allow them to walk free. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office says the jail turns over about a half dozen inmates to the federal agency each business day.</p><p>Dart this month <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ his staff was exploring legal options</a> for releasing some of these inmates. The sheriff said his review began after he noticed that San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey had ordered his department to quit honoring certain ICE detainers beginning June 1.</p><p>If Dart’s office follows Hennessey’s path or if García’s legislation wins approval, Cook County could become the nation’s largest local jurisdiction to halt blanket compliance with ICE holds.</p><p>“Cook County would be a counter pole to Arizona’s Maricopa County,” says Chris Newman, general counsel of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a Los Angeles-based group that opposes involving local authorities in immigration enforcement.</p><p>García’s office didn’t return WBEZ calls or messages about his legislation. The offices of Sheriff Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said they had seen the bill but declined to say whether they supported it.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said late Tuesday her office had not been consulted about García’s proposal. A 2009 letter from Alvarez to Dart’s office said federal law required the sheriff to comply with “any ICE detainers.”</p><p>In recent months, however, immigration authorities have acknowledged that local jails do not have to comply with the detainers.</p><p>ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa, asked for comment about García’s legislation, sent a statement calling the detainers “critical” for deporting “criminal aliens and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.”</p><p>“Individuals arrested for misdemeanors may ultimately be identified as recidivist offenders with multiple prior arrests, in addition to being in violation of U.S. immigration law,” the ICE statement said. “These individuals may have been deported before or have outstanding orders of removal.” Jurisdictions that ignore immigration detainers would be responsible for “possible public safety risks,” the statement added.</p><p>García’s proposal is on the county board’s agenda for Wednesday morning. Possible steps by commissioners include referring the measure to committee or approving it immediately.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/bill-would-free-cook-county-inmates-wanted-ice-89634 Dart slammed for mulling release of inmates wanted by ICE http://www.wbez.org/story/dart-slammed-mulling-release-inmates-wanted-ice-89317 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-18/Dart-Craigslist-M-Spencer-JPG.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Supporters of tougher immigration enforcement are criticizing Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for seeking legal options enabling the county’s massive jail to quit holding some inmates wanted for immigration violations.<br> <br> Dart <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233">told WBEZ</a> last week his department was looking for a way to end its blanket compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that detainees be held 48 hours beyond what their local criminal cases require. The holds, financed by the county, help ICE take custody and begin deportation proceedings. Dart says the jail’s role erodes community trust in local law enforcement, discouraging witnesses and even victims from cooperating with police.<br> <br> Ira Mehlman, spokesman of a Washington-based pro-enforcement group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, is not convinced. “This idea that turning people over to immigration authorities — who have already been picked up on suspicion of some crime — is somehow going to cause this massive chill just doesn’t hold water,” says Mehlman, who accuses Dart of “putting politics ahead of community safety.”<br> <br> The WBEZ report has also led to a torrent of comments on the station’s Web site. The visitors have labeled Dart everything from a “fool” to a “traitor.”<br> <br> But Dart’s review is also winning praise. “Sheriffs throughout the country are revisiting their policies with respect to the ICE holds,” says Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “The criminal justice system already distinguishes between people who can be released with no threat to public safety and those who cannot.”<br> <br> San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey on June 1 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/San_Francisco_policy_on_ICE_detainers.pdf">quit honoring</a> ICE requests for holds of inmates arrested for certain traffic infractions and other low-level offenses if a background check finds no felony convictions and meets other requirements. Since then, his department has released four inmates with ICE detainers, according to Eileen Hirst, the sheriff’s chief of staff.<br> <br> ICE officials acknowledge that local jails have no legal requirement to comply with the detainer requests.</p></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dart-slammed-mulling-release-inmates-wanted-ice-89317 Sheriff mulls freeing inmates wanted on immigration charges http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090908_tarnold_9361_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>On any given day, the Cook County Jail holds hundreds of inmates picked up on criminal charges who also happen to be wanted for an immigration violation. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office keeps them up to 48 hours beyond when the criminal cases would allow them out. That’s to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE, to take them into deportation proceedings. Now Dart tells WBEZ he’s reconsidering that policy because it could be compromising public safety. We report from our West Side bureau.</p><p><br> SOUND: Keys open a jail door.<br> <br> Beneath the Cook County criminal courthouse, one jailer pulls out keys and unlocks a door. Another, Officer Carmelo Santiago, leads the way.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: We’re going through this tunnel that connects us from the courthouse to the jail. This way is where the detainee is going to be coming.<br> <br> We step around crusts of sandwiches that the day’s new arrivals got for lunch.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: And this is the receiving process.<br> <br> SOUND: Entering the receiving area.<br> <br> The smell of unwashed feet wafts from chain-link pens full of inmates who’re waiting to be processed. Santiago shows me the paperwork of a Mexican national busted last night in Chicago.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This individual was arrested for driving on a revoked or suspended license on a DUI.<br> <br> A lot of immigrants who drink and drive end up in this jail. That’s because Illinois considers DUI a felony when the motorist lacks a valid driver’s license. And the state doesn’t allow any undocumented immigrant to get one.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: He was issued a bond from the court for $15,000.<br> <br> Santiago points out that the defendant could walk free for just $1,500. Except, his file shows something else.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This specific individual has a detainer that was placed on him through immigration.<br> <br> MITCHELL: This man can post bond or not [and] he’s going to end up in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?<br> <br> SANTIAGO: That is correct.<br> <br> Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he doesn’t like holding on to inmates like this one for ICE to take away. He says these holds make it harder for local police to fight crime. Residents see cops and start thinking about the threat of deportation — the threat to the criminals, maybe even to themselves.<br> <br> DART: It does not lend itself to a sense of community where people will gladly come to you with information about crimes, get involved as a witness, even come forward as a victim, frankly.<br> <br> Over the years Dart has taken steps to reduce the jail’s role in immigration enforcement. The sheriff’s office says it no longer calls ICE with information about inmates. The sheriff no longer allows ICE agents in holding cells near bond courtrooms. The jail has put up big signs — in English, Spanish and Polish — that tell new inmates they have no obligation to answer questions about immigration status. But Dart says something has him in a bind. Every day ICE requests that the jail hold certain inmates two extra days so the agency can put the detainees into deportation proceedings. The jail ends up turning over about a half-dozen inmates to ICE each day. Two years ago, Dart quietly sought some legal advice from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office.<br> <br> DART: The opinion was really unambiguous. It said I had to comply with the detainer. So, when the detainer was placed on somebody, I had to give the ICE officers 48 hours to come and pick somebody up and that it was not in my discretion.<br> <br> MITCHELL: Could you ignore the state’s attorney’s opinion?<br> <br> DART: Then I open myself up personally to civil liability.<br> <br> Dart says that could include damages for someone hurt by a released inmate or the legal defense if an anti-immigrant group filed suit . . .<br> <br> DART: . . . which is not something that myself or my five children signed up to do. And I open our office up to unbelievable amounts of liability.<br> <br> But some immigrant advocates are pressing Dart about the ICE detainers. They confronted a few of his top aides at a meeting a few weeks ago. Reverend Walter Coleman got to question a sheriff’s attorney, Patricia Horne.<br> <br> HORNE: It’s a legal document just like an arrest warrant, which we, under law, have to recognize.<br> <br> COLEMAN: Under what law?<br> <br> HORNE: Well, in this case, under federal law.<br> <br> COLEMAN: There is no federal law. You cannot cite me the statute or the chapter or the section. You know that that’s the truth and we will not sit here and be lied to like this.<br> <br> It turns out ICE isn’t citing a statute either. Lately federal officials have acknowledged that local jails don’t have to comply with immigration detainer requests. Last month the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department quit honoring the requests for certain inmates. Here in Cook County, Sheriff Dart says that’s got him wondering again whether he has to comply with the 48-hour holds. He tells me he’s planning to ask the State’s Attorney’s Office for an updated opinion. He could do that quietly again and most people wouldn’t even know. But Dart doesn’t always operate quietly. You might remember that, twice over the last three years, the sheriff has ordered his deputies to suspend enforcement of foreclosure evictions.<br> <br> MITCHELL: You run one of the country’s biggest jails. Would you really be willing to become a national lightening rod on the issue of immigration enforcement?<br> <br> DART: Well, there is this notion of justice that we’ve always felt very strongly about in this office. And whether it’s dealing with people who we felt were being dispossessed of their houses in the mortgage crisis. So we stopped. It’s the same issue here, where we are attempting to do what is right and just.<br> <br> But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore has a warning for any sheriff who lets inmates walk free despite an immigration hold.<br> <br> PALMORE: Though ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings, jurisdictions who ignore detainers bear the risk of allowing that individual back into the public domain before they were thoroughly vetted to insure that this individual doesn’t have anything outstanding that warrants us to move further in that particular case.<br> <br> Sheriff Dart acknowledges there could be a downside to ignoring immigration detainer requests. Let’s say ICE knows the inmate arrived in the country under an alias or is violent — and the information didn’t appear in the jail’s background check. But Dart says letting some immigrants out of jail even though ICE wants them could be worth the risk. It might help remove the deportation issue from everyday policing. The sheriff says that could make streets in Cook County safer.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 Sheriff’s office helps immigration agents http://www.wbez.org/story/news/immigration/sheriff%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2s-office-helps-immigration-agents <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090414_cmitchell_916539_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Dozens of U.S. municipalities have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. A Cook County declaration bans the Sheriff's Office from assisting with an investigation of someone's immigration status. The stated goals are to build trust in local law enforcement and encourage immigrants to help fight domestic violence, drug trafficking and even terrorism. But almost two years since the sanctuary declaration passed, immigration agents are still getting assistance from the Sheriff's Office. Last year alone, according to the office, immigration officials took some 250 county inmates into custody.<br> <br> SOUND: Office</p><p>In Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, attorney Salvador Cícero is having what he calls a routine morning. On the other side of his desk sits a 40-year-old homemaker. She wants help getting her husband out of jail</p><p>WIFE: Mi niño más chiquito pregunta, ‘Cuando va a llegar mi papi?'</p><p>She says their 10-year-old is asking for his daddy. Cícero picks up the phone to get answers from the Cook County Sheriff's Office.</p><p>CÍCERO: Lieutenant, how are you? I'm looking into the case of Miguel García. We wanted to make sure that he had been released. He paid his bail last Wednesday.</p><p>Police stopped García for allegedly driving under the influence. That charge turned into a felony because, like many undocumented immigrants, García couldn't provide a valid driver's license. García landed in a holding area of the courthouse on 26th and California.</p><p>Soon after his arrival, the Sheriff's Office began helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency known as ICE. The assistance seems at odds with the county's sanctuary declaration. First, the sheriff allowed ICE to interview García — even though, according to ICE, no federal statute requires that access.</p><p>Like many other inmates, García hadn't had a chance to speak with an attorney yet.</p><p>WHITE: Sometimes we're not sure if they even know who the ICE agents are.</p><p>Deborah White heads the Cook County Public Defender's felony trial division.</p><p>WHITE: And they give incriminating information to these agents.</p><p>As García prepared to post bond in his criminal case, ICE put a hold on him because he's an illegal alien. Then the Sheriff's Office helped the immigration agency again. The office kept García for ICE for more than two business days after he posted the bond. The federal government prohibits this.</p><p>Here's Salvador Cícero, the attorney, on the phone with the Sheriff's Office again.</p><p>CÍCERO: It has been past the 48 hours. So I would like this guy released. Can I follow up with you maybe in an hour? Thank you, Lieutenant. Bye.<br> MITCHELL: How often does this happen?<br> CÍCERO: Well, the reality is we've been seeing it two or three times a month, sometimes.</p><p>In a statement, Sheriff Tom Dart's Office says it never knowingly holds inmates for ICE beyond the 48 hours. And once inmates are in the jail next to the courthouse, the Sheriff's Office says it doesn't let ICE speak to them. Asked who's letting ICE interview inmates before their bond hearing, Dart's office says it's the jurisdiction of the State's Attorney and the Circuit Court chief judge.</p><p>Those officials respond that only the sheriff controls the courthouse's holding cells.</p><p>One man who's not happy with the way things are working at 26th and California is Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado. He pushed the sanctuary declaration through the county board in 2007.</p><p>MALDONADO: None of the independent elected officials, like the state's attorney or the sheriff, none of them has gone to the courts to challenge our ordinance and say, ‘We are exempt.' Right now all of them, all those constitutional officers, must abide by the ordinance.</p><p>When it came to Miguel García's case, attorney Salvador Cícero says the Sheriff's Office didn't abide by the sanctuary measure.</p><p>But the county's independent inspector general, Patrick Blanchard, says his office hasn't received any complaints alleging sanctuary violations.</p><p>SOUND: Office.</p><p>In his Pilsen office, Cícero breaks some bad news to García's wife.</p><p>CÍCERO: Me pude comunicar con la teniente Johnson, que me confirmó que sí lo recogieron esta mañana.</p><p>He says the Sheriff's Office has handed over her husband to ICE.</p><p>WIFE: Aquí tengo mi casa pero si me esposo no está no voy a poder pagarla....</p><p>Garcia's wife says she won't be able to afford their house without him. And she worries about their two youngest. They're U.S. citizens.</p><p>García will now likely face deportation. And plenty of people believe he should, because he entered the country illegally. But Commissioner Maldonado says he'll keep fighting to sever links between the Sheriff's Office and federal immigration officials.</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2009 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/immigration/sheriff%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%E2%84%A2s-office-helps-immigration-agents