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Cook County police chiefs take swipe at state’s attorney

April 5, 2019

CHICAGO (AP) — A group of suburban Chicago police chiefs said Thursday that they have no confidence in Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and called on her to resign.

Some 30 police chiefs attended a news conference with Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham to support that call, saying the dismissal of charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was a factor in their position.

Foxx later fired back at the police chiefs. She said their stance is an excuse to justify their resistance to her prioritizing prosecutions for violent crime.

“I was elected by the people of Cook County to pursue community safety, prevent harm, and uphold the values of fairness and equal justice,” Foxx said in a statement. “I’m proud of my record in doing that, and I plan to do so through the end of my term and, if the people so will it, into the future.”

Steven Stelter of the West Suburban Chiefs of Police Association said it wasn’t only about her handling of Smollett’s case. He also pointed to broader Foxx policies to not prosecute many lower-level felonies. He said residents needed to know Foxx “is letting them down.”

Foxx has faced heavy criticism since her office dismissed charges against Smollett, who was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in Chicago. Foxx previously said she welcomes an outside review into how her office handled the case.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday that the police chiefs are entitled to their opinions, but noted there was no chance Smollett was going to prison for his alleged actions and it’s time to move on.

“Since (Foxx) has been state’s attorney, we’ve had a great relationship,” Johnson told Chicago public television station WTTW.

Since taking office, Foxx has moved to deprioritize certain nonviolent crimes like shoplifting, and halted prosecutions of people accused of driving on licenses suspended or revoked for financial reasons, such as failure to pay tolls or parking tickets.

In a letter sent to Foxx, Park Ridge Police Chief Duane Mellema, who also heads the North Suburban Association of Chiefs of Police, expressed concern over prosecutors’ refusal to file felony charges in certain crimes.

“The abrupt dropping of the 16 indictments against ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett during an unannounced court hearing on March 26, 2019, is the latest and most egregious example of the failure by you and your staff to hold offenders accountable,” Mellema wrote.

Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police paid for the defense of Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was found guilty earlier this year of the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald. The union also praised the career of disgraced police commander Jon Burge upon his death last year. Burge’s torture of black suspects, which he was sent to federal prison for lying about, have cost the city close to $100 million in legal settlements and fees over the years.

Asked why there were no African-American police chiefs at the event, Graham only said that all county police chiefs had been invited. Cook County includes Chicago and more than 130 other communities.

Harvey Police Chief Gregory Thomas distanced himself from the no-confidence sentiment expressed by his counterparts, including other members of the South Suburban Association of Chiefs of Police.

“As police we carry investigations as far as we can and once we turn them over to the state’s attorney we don’t have a say so in the outcome . whether or not we agree with it,” he said. “And that was the standard long before Foxx, so I question the timing here.”

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Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

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