WBEZ | law enforcement http://www.wbez.org/tags/law-enforcement Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As police get body cameras, what happens to all that video? http://www.wbez.org/news/police-get-body-cameras-what-happens-all-video-111328 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1204_body-camera-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of the ideas catching hold after the non-indictments of police officers in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown is equipping police with body cameras. Advocates of the idea say they increase transparency, and improve trust between communities and the police.</p><p>The Los Angeles Police Department recently bought 860 body cameras, and over the course of this year, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says he wants all of the department&rsquo;s roughly 7,000 front line officers wearing cameras.</p><p>The L.A.P.D bought its cameras from <a href="http://www.taser.com/" target="_blank">TASER</a>, one of the leading companies in the law enforcement body camera industry.&nbsp;Along with the cameras, TASER also sells subscriptions to a site called <a href="http://www.evidence.com/" target="_blank">evidence.com</a> that police departments can use to store and manage all the video officers record while out on a shift.</p><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org">Here &amp; Now&rsquo;</a>s Lisa Mullins spoke with Steve Tuttle,&nbsp;one of the founding members of TASER, and the company&rsquo;s vice president of strategic communications&nbsp;about who the cameras benefit, how the video is stored and managed, and concerns over privacy.</p><p>&ldquo;The privacy concerns are certainly there and that&rsquo;s up to the individual agencies and state laws that deal with that,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So we want to give them the features that can make this shareable in the manner that&rsquo;s necessary for the public, but at the same time manage those expectations for privacy.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately, Tuttle says the equipment is beneficial to both police and the public.</p><p>&ldquo;If we were to empower the police with what we call the legal body armor of these on-officer cameras, I think we would give more accountability to the public and provide a lot more transparency of a use-of-force situation in which there&rsquo;s a he-said-she-said,&rdquo; Tuttle said.</p><p><strong>On&nbsp;how&nbsp;TASER&rsquo;s&nbsp;cameras work</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The camera that you put on your body, once you go on patrol is always recording in a video mode. Now what that does is it saves all the most recent video of the previous 30 seconds &hellip;&nbsp;And once it&rsquo;s doing that, what the officer is then waiting for is an event to occur.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;ve got a radio callout, you&rsquo;re going to double-click that button and it will grab the previous 30 seconds of video only and then it begins to add the audio portion. And that officer then goes on to the scene of the crime, maybe interviews a suspect, maybe arrests somebody. Keeps that camera rolling until that person is in jail. And then they press and hold that button for five seconds. You now have an event of that recording. If it were played back, you would hear 30 seconds of silence prior to when that officer pressed that button and you would then capture all that audio visual currents that occurred from pressing the button forward.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>On&nbsp;statistical evidence for body-camera effectiveness</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The evidence shows that it actually keeps the officer safer and the suspect safer. There was a watershed moment for us; it was called the Cambridge University Rialto Police Department Study. Rialto is a suburb of Los Angeles and they looked at the TASER AXON Camera Flex system for one year in a blind study. They found that the complaints were reduced by 88% &mdash; that&rsquo;s a game-changer in and of itself, because you&rsquo;ve now got a witness to certain situations where there&rsquo;s been previously no witness. The bigger game changer was the 59% drop in use of force. That clearly is changing behavior on both sides of the badge.&rdquo;</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/01/02/police-video-data" target="_blank">via Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></p> Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/police-get-body-cameras-what-happens-all-video-111328 Report: Number of police officers killed spikes in 2014 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-number-police-officers-killed-spikes-2014-111310 <p><p>The number of police officers killed in the line of duty increased in 2014, a report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund finds.</p><p>In total, 126 officers were killed in 2014. That&#39;s a 24 percent increase from 2013, when 102 officers were killed.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nleomf.org/facts/research-bulletins/">According to the report</a>, the number of police officers killed by firearms also rose by 56 percent &mdash; from 32 in 2013 to 50 in 2014.</p><p>Here&#39;s a graphic that puts those numbers in historical context:</p><div><a href="http://www.nleomf.org/facts/research-bulletins/" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2014totalfatalities-web_custom-df784be8fe541622a01105419bc5bfbd56a9e39f-s800-c85.png" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="A graph showing officer deaths per year. (NLEOMF)" /></a></div><div><p><a href="http://www.nleomf.org/newsroom/news-releases/eoy-report-2014.html">In a press release</a>, the fund adds:</p><blockquote><div><p>&quot;Ambush-style attacks, as evidenced earlier this month by the shooting deaths of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while sitting in their marked patrol car, were the number one cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth year in a row. Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, matching 2012 for the highest total since 1995.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>One important asterisk to this news: While gun deaths of officers have increased, they still remain 12-percent lower than the decade-long average of 57.</p><p>&quot;Firearms-related fatalities peaked in 1973, when 156 officers were shot and killed. Since then, the average number of officers shot and killed has decreased<br />from 127 per year in the 1970s to 57 per year in the 2000s,&quot; the report notes.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/30/373985338/report-number-of-police-officers-killed-spikes-in-2014" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 11:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-number-police-officers-killed-spikes-2014-111310 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