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Sheriff proposes takeover of forest preserve police

Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has proposed a unique way to help the county out in its annual budget crisis: give him more work.

The sheriff is proposing that his department take over the Cook County Forest Preserve Police, said spokesman Steve Patterson.

"We can do this with few logistical problems," said Patterson, who noted the sheriff's office already investigates crimes that occur in the forest preserves and dispatches their 911 calls.

While such a move has been proposed in the past, it has typically been met with reluctance from the county president's office. This time, however, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's office indicated it was willing to take a serious look at it, said Patterson.

If the move goes through, it would result in the layoff of about 100 forest preserve police and save about $5.75 million a year.

The Cook County Board may talk about the proposal today when it meets on budget matters, Patterson said.



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