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3 candidates, 3 views on police prosecutions

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Crain's Chicago Business

On Jan. 4, Crain's published a guest column by Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin ("Why stop at one special prosecutor?") that argued for a special lawyer in all cases involving police prosecutions. "In Cook County, our code of ordinances enables the state's attorney's office to enlist the Chicago Police Department to function on its behalf," Boykin wrote. "In other words, if Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez needs help gathering evidence to build a case against a defendant, she is free to use the CPD to help her get the job done. . . .Many cases would fall apart if not for an officer's testimony. Alvarez needs the Police Department in order for her office to meet its most basic requirements."

Boykin goes on to explain why he introduced an ordinance before the Cook County Board of Commissioners—expected to be discussed this week—that, much like Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order in New York, would require a special state's attorney in all police prosecutions, including those that involve shootings of unarmed civilians.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and her two opponents in the March Democratic primary, Donna More and Kim Foxx, have plenty to say on the topic. A summary of each candidate's viewpoint is below; click the links to read their full opinion.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez:"When Commissioner Richard Boykin called for a special prosecutor in fatal police shootings in his Jan. 4 letter to this publication, he demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the law that governs the appointment of a special prosecutor and the duties of the state's attorney. . . .I believe that we must strive to make any necessary changes or improvements to the way that our system addresses police-involved shootings, but taking the case out of the capable hands of the elected prosecutor in favor of an appointed prosecutor is not a solution."Click hereto read her full guest column.






Challenger Donna More, a former state and federal prosecutor:"There is no question that we need to find a better way to handle cases in which police must use force—i.e. weapons—in response to criminal activity. . . .The answer, however, doesn't come from passing the buck. The voters of Cook County elect a state's attorney to act on the evidence uncorrupted by uniforms, politics, race or money. So, for many of us who have served in the criminal justice system, rebuilding trust starts with having a chief prosecutor who will do her job."Click hereto read her full guest column.




Challenger Kim Foxx, a former prosecutor and former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle:"Given the real and necessary intimacy of the relationship between the state's attorney and law enforcement, an outside prosecutor is a needed safeguard. To get there, we don't need to reinvent the wheel. The state's attorney's office already operates this way, for example, when an assistant state's attorney is accused of breaking the law. We could take a similar approach in police shooting cases."Click hereto read her full guest column.



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