CHICAGO - Illinois Republicans and suburban Chicago-area police chiefs are backing a new bill that would allow officers to override relaxed charging decisions by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, as surging, gang-related violent crime is now extending into the suburbs surround the metropolitan area.
State House Republican Leader Rep. Jim Durkin, alongside state Republican Sen. John Curran, introduced House Bill 4176, which would allow police departments to override the state's attorney or the assistant state’ attorney’s decision to reject felony charges of designate continuing investigation.
"If police determine there is clear and convincing evidence that a crime has occurred, then they will have the authority to override the state's attorney's decision," Durkin told Fox News Digital. "The state's attorney has been dumping a lot of cases – not rejecting them – but saying we're going to put this on a continuing investigation and that means basically it falls into this abyss which leads to nothing. That's how she's able to keep her stats about felony rejections at a lower level."
"It's as if criminals are winning the war on crime in Chicago and Cook County," he said. "It's not because of police. It's because we have a prosecuting attorney who is choosing not to work with police and has turned her back on police on some many occasions."
This proposal comes two weeks after Foxx and Chicago's Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot exchanged a war of words over the state attorney's decision not to bring felony charges in daylight neighborhood shootout caught on camera on the West Side between two rival gang factions.
Video showed offenders get out of a car and fire into a house, before members of a rival gang indoors fired back, spraying dozens of shell casings onto the street. One died, and several were wounded and taken into custody but Foxx cited "mutual" combat in her decision to let the offenders off.
"She makes it seem like this was a gentleman's duel," Durkin said. "That's a question for a jury to determine of whether this was a matter of self-defense or if it was mutual combat. But the fact of that matter is she is trying the case right there at the crime scene and that's not right."
"If that doesn’t cry out for justice, I don’t know what else we can do?" Durkin said. "That’s why I want police to have the authority to say ‘I’m sorry, Ms. Foxx. We don’t agree with you and we’re going to move in a different direction. We’re going to make sure these criminals are going to be held accountable and that they will be in the criminal justice system."
Lightfoot later asked federal prosecutors to review evidence in the case – something Durkin, a former assistant Cook County state attorney himself, said is growing trend, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office is extending its normal role of handling financial crimes and corruption to take on more Chicago street violence cases when Foxx’s office chooses not to step up to the prosecution plate.
Under the bill, the state’s attorney would have seven days to rescind a police department’s override by petitioning the Chief Judge of the Criminal Division of the circuit court. If the court determines that law enforcement agency's decision to override "was based on clear and convincing evidence," the state’s attorney must proceed with a preliminary hearing or seek an indictment by grand jury within 30 days from the date the defendant was taken into custody. If the offender was released on bond, a preliminary hearing or indictment must come within 60 days from the date he or she was arrested.
If the felony charges are rejected, the state’s attorney would also be required to notify victims’ families within 24 hours and provide a written explanation as to why the offender wasn’t charged.
"It’s like a revolving door with gang bangers and drug dealers," Durkin said. "That’s why I’m giving police this authority to override and to bring accountability to this office not only for law enforcement but more importantly, for victims who are left wondering ‘why is this person walking out of the police district who has committed this terrible crime?’"
A 2020 Chicago Tribune analysis found that Foxx "dropped all charges against 29.9% of felony defendants, a dramatic increase over her predecessor." Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cook County is on track to see the highest carjacking numbers in 20 years, as carjackings are up 43.5 percent this year compared to the same time period in 2020. In another case involving a seven-year-old girl who was shot and killed, police officials filed their own charges against the suspect when Foxx’s office refused to do so, but their charges were also dropped, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"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," a spokesperson for the Cook County State's Attorney Office said to Fox News Digital. "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."
Durkin held a meeting with over two dozen police chiefs from Cook County last week.
"The frustration they have is profound," he said. "The crime in Chicago is moving out to the suburbs. We’re having carjackings at a record pace in suburban Chicago, kidnappings, murders. Things you typically see in a large metropolitan area are making it into the suburbs. The same frustration you see with the Chicago police is now with the suburban police."
The bill was assigned to committee on Wednesday, and Durkin hopes that Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch, a Democrat, would see the value in the legislation because he lives in one of those suburbs that’s seen a huge spike in crime. Hillside police Chief Joe Lukaszek, who runs the department serving Welch’s neighborhood, has thrown his support behind the bill, Durkin said.
"But the Democrats passed legislation earlier in the year that is just a complete insult to law enforcement officers – a police reform bill that’s created even more of distrust between Democrat leaders in the state and the rank and file officers too," he said. "It’s not just the crime we’re seeing in Chicago, it’s the vilification of law enforcement by Democrat leaders in the state of Illinois, including the governor, the state’s attorney of Cook County and also the Democrat leaders in the legislature."
Welch's office did not immediately return a Fox News Digital request for comment.
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