Chicago murder suspects reportedly roam streets on electronic monitoring at alarming rate
Written by kslmadmin on July 15, 2021
The federal effort by the Biden administration to reduce gun violence on the streets of Chicago will be ineffective if the local prosecutor continues to allow the release of murder and attempted murder suspects back onto the streets to wreak future havoc, according to a retired police sergeant.
“What is needed are stricter laws and the enforcement of existing laws,” retired Chicago police Sgt. Peter Koconis told Fox News. “Catch and release does not work. There has to be a penalty when these gang members are arrested for using or carrying a weapon.”
There were 101 murder suspects and 21 attempted murder suspects out on electronic monitoring in Cook County as of Wednesday, a sheriff’s spokesperson told Fox News. Those were included in the total 3,486 individuals on ankle bracelets in Cook County as of that day.
Without mentioning specific numbers, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown used the recent fatal shooting of 31-year-old rapper KTS Dre, whose real name was Londre Sylvester, to illustrate flaws in the court system that allow someone with a lengthy criminal record out with an ankle monitor.
“His long criminal record didn’t keep him there long,” Brown said at a press conference Tuesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It’s incredible that he was eligible for electronic monitoring. It’s madness. It’s making us all less safe.”
Sylvester was riddled with dozens of bullets down the street from the Cook County Jail after he was released on electronic monitoring. Brown said it was a “miracle” that two other people also shot weren’t killed in the attack. A 60-year-old woman walking with Sylvester survived gunshot wounds to the knee, and a bullet grazed the mouth of a 30-year-old woman walking separately in the area.
Koconis argued that police officers were “demoralized” by comments made by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who suggested at a separate press conference that individuals found carrying a gun don’t necessarily have to be arrested because the weapon wasn’t used to commit a crime yet.
“What she’s saying is, until you do something, we shouldn’t arrest you,” Koconis, who has 38 years of tactical and gang experience, told Fox News. “Well, city police, who have been through hell and high water later with 12-hour days, seven-day weeks, some for 21 straight days being exhausted and run into the ground, they have still taken over 6,000 guns off the streets.”
Chicago has seen at least 382 homicide victims so far this year through July 11, according to public data posted by the Chicago Police Department.
“Why let people go? I don’t want to hear about wearing it for protection. That’s not right,” he said, referring to those found illegally carrying guns. “Either get a permit and get a concealed carry license or don’t be carrying guns.”
When officers bring probable cause in court, whether it’s gun fingerprints or evidence suggesting a suspect shot someone, a judge turns to the state attorney for recommendations on bail, Koconis said. The state attorney now gives no recommendation, so judges, to avoid being held accountable for holding suspects, are more likely to release them instead on electronic monitoring, he said.
Furthermore, federally funded programs to boost employment and after-school programs will have to compete with Chicago gangs, as juveniles hired to ride bicycles around neighborhoods to look out for cops can earn more cash than those who take part-time jobs at fast-food chains or elsewhere.
Young teenagers are carrying guns and are often hired to carjack vehicles later used in drive-by shootings or to drive into stores to be looted for goods, Koconis said. The legalization of marijuana has made the drug trade more lucrative, as people are killing each other to get control of street corners where cannabis is sold at a cheaper rate than the regulated version of the drug.
Brown said Tuesday he has met with Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans on multiple occasions, yet he wishes these weren’t “backroom discussions.” The superintendent also said he brought up the electronic monitoring issue with President Biden at the White House on Monday during a roundtable discussion on gun violence. A Department of Justice strike force, which includes Chicago police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), will also address illegal gun trafficking.
A spokesperson for Evans directed Fox News to a statement released July 6 in response to public officials who criticized the courts, and, in particular, judicial decisions to impose electronic monitoring on some defendants rather than incarcerate them in Cook County Jail before trial.
“Looking at individual tragic cases in isolation may contribute to the speculation that releasing individuals before trial rather than incarcerating them – whether by placing them on Electronic Monitoring (EM) or other forms of supervision – means an increase in crime,” Evans said. “But speculation based on isolated cases is not the same as reality based on a complete picture, and research has shown that bail reform has not led to an increase in crime.”
In deciding to release defendants on electronic monitoring, judges “are guided by looking at the criminal backgrounds,” his office said, and “only those individuals judged to pose a clear and present danger to society are kept in jail before trial.”
Evans said a study conducted by Loyola University last November confirmed a previous internal court report that bail reform has kept hundreds out of jail while not contributing to a rise in crime. He said it saved residents from posting more than $31 million in bail in a six-month period.
For new felony cases filed between Oct. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2020, murder, attempted murder and reckless homicide accounted for 1.3%, or 1,150, out of 86,653 total assessed felony cases. Of these cases, 181 defendants, or 15.7%, were released pretrial. Evans’ office said 94% of murder defendants released pretrial were not charged with any new crime, and about 99% were not charged with a new violent offense.
A spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office referred Fox News to a statement Foxx released following the deadly Fourth of July weekend, in which she argued the uptick in violence is a “more complex issue” that’s attributed to more than just a slowed-down court system.
“Finger-pointing instead of talking honestly about the violence plaguing our city doesn’t help bring solutions that make our communities safer,” Foxx said. “It starts with apprehending those who pull the trigger; police must make an arrest before a case reaches the courthouse door.”
Addressing gun violence “requires all of the criminal justice stakeholders to work together rather than engaging in deflection and blame-shifting,” she continued. “Chicagoans deserve an honest, solutions-based assessment and an action plan from their leaders.”
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