CHICAGO — After a weekend that saw at least eight people killed and 23 injured on city streets, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is defending a bail reform program that police say allows too many people arrested with guns to get out of jail in a matter of hours or days.
Every Monday – like clockwork – police promote their efforts to get illegal guns off the streets.
This Monday, it was the arrest of five people after a gang search warrant netted two guns, including an AR-15 and a handgun converted to fire full automatic. Cops say they collected 84 illegal guns citywide this weekend.
Changes in the court system have allowed nearly 900 gun-offenders out of jail in recent months, and of those individuals, Preckwinkle says “99-plus-percent of the people are out on electronic monitoring or on their own recognizance are not re-arrested for a violent offense."
"Less than one percent are picked up for a new violent offense,” Preckwinkle said.
Chicago police data tell a different story.
In the last four months, 892 people arrested on a felony gun charge were able to post bond, even though roughly half had previous felony gun arrests. Of those individuals, 75 have been re-arrested. That’s a 12-percent re-arrest rate for those out on bond.
Preckwinkle points to the fact that despite a bloody weekend, murders and shootings continue to decline.
“It’s important to note that progress has been made both in reducing shootings and murders and bond court reform. Those two things have been simultaneous," Preckwinkle said.
The county board president and mayor have a strained relationship after a bruising election in which Lightfoot pummeled Preckwinkle, beating her in every ward.
Since then, meetings between the two have been rare. Lightfoot doesn’t like questions about their relationship, as the two insist they can work together to make the streets safer.
“Let me be clear: I am the mayor of the city and I’m not a reality TV star,” Lightfoot said. “There are a number of things we could collaborate on: Procurement, criminal justice, public health, a number of ways we could be good partners."
A spokesperson for Preckwinkle said her 99 percent number comes from the chief judge. Preckwinkle also added the caveat: 99 percent don’t reoffend with a violent crime. What’s clear is that the county and the mayor and police department aren’t on the same page when it comes to the impact of allowing gun offenders out of jail while awaiting trial.
In response to our report, the Chicago police department’s chief spokesperson tweeted: “Problems in Chicago aren’t going to get solved by pointing fingers,” Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. “Let data speak for itself and Chicagoans decide if the climate with gun violence & offenders is acceptable for the city they call home. We hear the voices of victims and for us, it’s not.”