SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Republicans are pushing for legislation that would help override prosecutors, as some state legislators believe police chiefs should have the authority when law enforcement believes clear evidence exists.
“Crime is increasing. It’s getting worse and we have a State’s Attorney that is looking the other direction,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said.
Durkin called out Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Monday as the impetus for House Bill 4176 that was introduced in Springfield.
The legislation would apply only to Cook County and would give police chiefs the authority to override the State’s Attorney decision to not file felony charges.
Durkin cited two recent cases in Chicago — a deadly gang shootout in Austin where Foxx cited “mutual combatants” as well as the murder of 7-year-old Serenity Broughton.
In September, police arrested a suspect, 24-year-old Aerion Luster, but released him when Foxx refused to bring charges, citing a lack of evidence.
Police argue there was plenty, including cell phone records and evidence inside Luster’s vehicle. Last week, Foxx’s office changed course and did file charges.
Law professor Richard Kling of Kent College of Law questions the timing and ethics of the new legislation, saying it’s up to constituents to vote Kim Foxx out if they’re not happy with her.
“You can’t take away from the people who elected a State’s Attorney the right to determine what charges are filed or not filed by giving power to the individual police departments. That would be a very dangerous precedent,” Kling said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office sent the following statement on Tuesday.
“Pursuing justice requires that prosecutors act with integrity and meet the ethical standards to bring charges against persons committing crimes. Evidence must support those charges. In Suburban Cook County, the CCSAO approves 85% of cases, and if there is an insufficient amount of evidence, we continue to work with law enforcement to bring new evidence. The current system allows for checks and balances in the criminal justice system where police investigate and the CCSAO prosecutes.