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Cook County sheriff offers to take over patrolling of forest preserves

Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is offering to save $8.6 million by taking over policing forest preserves at a time when commissioners are looking to balance a county budget that still hasn't been approved.

In a letter, a Dart aide said the department can police the district's 68,000 acres "with existing sheriff's police staff." Such a move would shutter the Cook County Forest Preserve Police Department.

The administration of County Board President Todd Stroger, who is Forest Preserve District president, isn't exactly greeting the idea with open arms, however.

Steve Mayberry, spokesman for the Forest Preserve District, said the district's 120 sworn officers are "fully trained in conservation issues" and have to be familiar with a different set of ordinances.

"We aren't saying we can take over the conservation end of things," Dart spokesman Steve Patterson said. "We are saying we can take over the police end of things."



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