Controversy surrounds Kim Foxx's new policy on drug, gun charges

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is facing both criticism and acclaim for a planned policy change that would direct prosecutors in her office to reject drug and gun charges stemming solely from routine traffic stops, such as broken tail lights or expired plates.

The draft proposal comes a little more than seven months before Foxx leaves office. Chicago Alderman Sylvana Tabares (23rd Ward) condemned the move, stating it would "cement Foxx's legacy as the biggest pro-criminal advocate in the nation."

"It strips officers of an essential tool to get illegal guns off our streets," Tabares remarked. "Residents are demanding we do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and make their neighborhoods safe. This does the opposite."

However, Foxx’s office counters that only about 1 in 1000 of these pretextual traffic stops result in an illegal gun charge. They claim to have started work on the policy in August, months before Dexter Reed was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer after opening fire during a traffic stop.

In a statement, Foxx’s office emphasized, "Decades of data demonstrate that these stops do not enhance public safety. Instead, they perpetuate a cycle of mistrust and fear, especially in under-resourced communities. This draft policy is a crucial step towards rebuilding that trust."

Civil rights groups are applauding the proposed policy change, asserting that it corrects a police practice that violated civil rights.

"Black drivers are six times more likely to be stopped than white drivers," said Loren Jones, Director of Criminal Legal Systems for the non-profit group Impact for Equity. "Overall, the practice of stopping someone for a traffic violation is not unconstitutional, but when there’s a racial bias behind it, as we can see from the data, that’s when the constitutionality is called into question."

Republican Bob Fioretti says he'd end the policy on day one in office should he win, but says it might be too little too late.

"What will we say to the family of the next murder victim whose assailant should have otherwise been in jail, only to have Kim Foxx fail to do her sworn duty," Fioretti said.

Democratic Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Eileen O’Neill Burke declined to comment.