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Cook County’s Policies Going Statewide: Ex-Riverside Chief

RIVERSIDE, IL – Former Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel says Cook County’s bond court is essentially a revolving door, routinely releasing dangerous suspects.

Starting in 2023, those practices will be extended throughout the state, he said. That is when a new law eliminating cash bail takes effect.

“It’s going statewide – from the smallest farming community to metropolitan Chicago,” Weitzel said in an interview Friday.

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Under the SAFE-T Act, people can be held without bail, but prosecutors must provide evidence within 48 hours about the danger such people pose to the community. Prosecutors argue that’s not enough time.

The new law’s backers say it’s unfair a person who can afford bail is released while someone who cannot stays locked up.

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Cook County, Weitzel said, often uses electronic monitoring for dangerous suspects. But sometimes they go on to commit more crimes while on monitoring.

“The sheriff doesn’t have enough people to watch those on electronic monitoring,” said Weitzel, who retired last year. “It’s a budget issue. They’re not just going to create the positions. Bond court in Cook County is completely broken.”

A few years ago, Cook County’s chief judge, Timothy Evans, pushed to release more defendants before their trials, using electronic monitoring.

Weitzel said not everyone who is arrested should go to jail.

“Those arrested for low-level crimes should be released. Repeat violent offenders should not be let out,” he said.

Earlier this year, Weitzel pointed to an example of a home invasion suspect in Riverside going on to be charged with more violent crimes. The suspect was on electronic monitoring.

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Cook County’s Policies Going Statewide: Ex-Riverside Chief

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