* Yesterday, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady issued yet another press release slamming Attorney General Lisa Madigan. This time, it was over AG Madigan’s alleged abdication of her role as a crime fighter in the wake of an “explosion in gang violence”…
“Under Attorney General Madigan, we have seen an explosion in gang violence, including murders of innocent bystanders and Lisa Madigan has done nothing to combat it,” said Brady. “In New York, the state’s top law officer leads the charge in major anti gang operations, most recently indicting 52 for gang and drug activity.”
There has been over 30 homicides in the City of Chicago since the end of the NATO Summit on May 21st.
“Here in Illinois, Lisa Madigan is content issuing edicts about the perils of buying a used car,” Brady added. “She has abdicated her role as the State’s Chief Law enforcement officer. As Attorney General, she has the tools to fight gang violence but unfortunately, she has chosen not to use them.”
* Wow. That was pretty darned harsh. But later in the day, the US Department of Justice issued this press release…
Nineteen Chicago area men, many suspected members or associates of the of the Imperial Gangsters street gang, were arrested yesterday by FBI special agents and Chicago Police officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, culminating a nearly three-year long investigation which targeted illicit drug and firearms sales in and around the Humboldt park area on Chicago’s near northwest side.
Yesterday’s arrests were announced by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who was joined by Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD); Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney, Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, and Michael Witz, Chief of the Franklin Park Police Department. […]
Regarding the combined efforts that led to the charges, Attorney General Madigan said, “These arrests demonstrate how effective coordination between law enforcement agencies at all levels can produce significant results in fighting drug dealing and gang activity.” [Emphasis added.]
* I asked the AG’s office about Chairman Brady’s comparison with New York. The response…
This comparison of the NY and Illinois AG offices is comparing apples-to-oranges. So, let’s dispense with that right off the bat. In New York, the state passed a law in 1970 creating a Statewide Organized Crime Task Force, putting the AG in charge of that task force (the AG and Governor jointly select the head of the task force), and providing that the head of the task force “may request and shall receive” assistance from every agency of state government (including the State Police) and every political subdivision (including local police departments). So, based on that 1970 law, the AG (working with the Gov) oversees a statewide task force with the power to command assistance from every police department in the state. In addition to that, the NY AG’s office employs 225 sworn police officer investigators. By way of comparison, Illinois does not have a similar statute providing such broad criminal authority and access to state and local law enforcement resources, and our office employs fewer than 20 sworn investigators.
With the inapt comparison to NY out of the way, let’s look at the situation in Illinois. Here, as you know, the significant statewide police resources are in the hands of the Illinois State Police and the broad jurisdiction to prosecute crimes is in the hands of the county state’s attorneys. They have much broader criminal jurisdiction than our office (whereas we have very broad jurisdiction under the civil laws). With that as the background, our office’s criminal prosecution resources are dedicated to assisting state’s attorneys when requested, working with state’s attorneys on cases where we have unique resources (such as using our Internet Crimes Against Children task force to work with local law enforcement and state’s attorneys to investigate and prosecute child pornography—thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice) and enforcing statutes that give our office jurisdiction (for example, we prosecute sexually violent persons cases all over the state).
Under the Statewide Grand Jury Act, we have limited jurisdiction to convene a grand jury to investigate and prosecute cases that cross county lines and involve narcotics – but only if we can explain to a judge (1) why a local county grand jury cannot effectively handle the case and (2) that the state’s attorneys for the counties in which the crimes are occurring have consented to the Statewide Grand Jury. And if you think about the resources available, it makes sense that the Cook County State’s Attorney, with hundreds of prosecutors and a grand jury sitting every week, would not require the assistance of our office. Where we focus our efforts is in collaborating with state’s attorney’s offices that have significantly fewer resources, as well as with other federal, state and local agencies whenever possible.