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Hospital police disbanded.

Saturday, February 24, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman Staff writer

After years of vacillating about it, the Cook County Board decided to disband the Stroger Hospital police force after a quick debate.

As debate on the county budget wound down early Friday, Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago), a long-time critic of the agency, pushed through a budget amendment disbanding the force by September and replacing it with a contracted security firm.

The measure was approved on a 9-to-7 vote. Commissioner Pete Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park) abstained.

"I don't know how most of you can truly say you're truly alert to this issue," Silvestri said as the board took up the debate about 2 a.m. Friday. "We've never really talked about some of these problems."

The county has had problems with the independent force for much of its 34-year history.

Last month, the family of a 77-year-old man said he was badly beaten by hospital police while waiting to meet his wife at the hospital. Last week, police handcuffed a Sun-Times reporter who was at the hospital covering a protest by advocates of the homeless.


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