Ignoring Cook County’s Crime Crisis Does Not Make It Go Away
By: Sean Morrison, Cook County Commissioner, 17th District
Orland Park, IL — The rise in crime in Cook County is real and it is time for our elected officials to stop pretending it is not.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski recently expressed concerns about crime and called Chicago a “city in crisis.” He went on to say, “We have violent crime that’s happening in our restaurants… we’re seeing homelessness issues in our restaurants. We’re having drug overdoses that are happening in our restaurants.”
Instead of dismissing these serious concerns — it is time for leaders in Cook County to start listening to the growing calls to prioritize public safety in our communities, implement effective policies, and get serious about prosecuting criminals.
Crime is up nearly 40-percent in Chicago. This is a result of bad policy decisions at the state and local levels. At the state level, Governor JB Pritzker has signed into law the ill-advised SAFE-T Act which eliminates cash bail and greatly restricts the ability of police to detain offenders involved in trespassing and other non-felony offenses.
At the local level, policies prohibiting police pursuits, the recent bail reform initiative, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s refusal to prosecute criminals have all contributed to an unprecedented rise in crime.
The Cook County courts, led by Cook County’s Chief Judge, Timothy Evans, adopted their own permissive pre-trial release policies long before the SAFE-T Act was even introduced. These failed Cook County court policies are a key cause of the out-of-control violence in Cook County. According to a recent study from the University of Utah, defendants charged with committing new crimes spiked by 45% after the bail reforms took effect. Violent crimes committed by pre-trial releases spiked by 33%. Cook County’s bail reform has only served to make our communities more violent and less safe and the situation is only going to get worse when the SAFE-Act goes into effect on January 1, 2023.next year.
To add fuel to the crime crisis, Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, flat-out refuses to do her job. Her total disregard for public safety and inability (or disinterest) to perform her duties as Cook County’s top prosecutor has led to a personnel crisis in the State’s Attorney’s office with 235 individuals resigning from the office since July 2021 due to their frustration with not being able to do their job effectively and prosecute criminals. Criminals know they will not be prosecuted for their crimes. When there is no deterrent and accountability for crimes committed by offenders, the result will always be a surge in crime — this is exactly what we are seeing in Cook County.
There is bipartisan agreement that one of the most fundamental responsibilities of government is to keep residents safe. No one wants to see Cook County residents living in fear, but it is time for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other Cook County leaders to recognize their policies have failed Cook County residents.
We must roll back the failed bail reform policies and ensure law enforcement has the resources required to protect our communities. Democrats and Republicans throughout Cook County must put bi-partisan pressure on State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to do her job and prosecute criminals.
Ignoring this crime crisis is not a solution. It is time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to keep our communities safe. Public safety is my top priority and I call on Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle, and her fellow Democrat colleagues, to also do the same and make public safety their top priority. Enough is enough. Inaction is not an option. Too many lives have been lost and continue to be at stake. Elected officials cannot continue to allow ideological and political differences to prevent us from taking the steps needed to make our communities safe. We have a job to do, and we must get it done.