Ald. Nugent, police say juvenile offenders released without required programming to help them; crime pattern too often repeated
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about not detaining suspects, including juveniles, who face robbery and other serious charges were discussed at a Jan. 16 community meeting hosted by the Edgebrook Community Association and alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) and James Gardiner (45th).
Nugent said that police officers have expressed concerns to her about minors who are being released after their arrest with few, if any, conditions and then commit a similar crime again.
“They need mandatory programming for juveniles; otherwise there’s just a pattern. … That’s very troubling to me,” Nugent said. “We are seeing minors picked up repeatedly.”
Deputy chief of police Roberto Nieves echoed Nugent’s concerns. “We have been seeing a large number of juveniles,” he said, adding that they are being released to their parents. “There’s nothing in place to ensure they’ll get the help they need.”
In some instances a curfew could be imposed as a condition of release, but it may not be adhered to for long, Nieves said.
Nugent said that there are optional programs available and some officers will go to suspects’ homes and try working with families, but cooperation can be difficult.
Nugent said after the meeting that she plans to set up a meeting with county officials to discuss the matter.
Cook County assistant state’s attorney Joy Tolbert, told residents that she is not in the juvenile division but that she would be happy to arrange a follow-up community meeting to discuss youth-related issues.
Tolbert did outline how decisions are made whether to hold adult suspects in jail until their trial or to release them while they await trial.
Under the Pretrial Fairness Act, cash bonds are no longer issued, and defendants are detained based on the seriousness of the charge and the danger they pose. Critics of cash bonds argue that whether a person is detained should not be based on their ability to afford a bond.
Prosecutors can recommend to hold a defendant in jail, but a judge ultimately makes that decision pending a detention hearing, Tolbert said.
Concerns were raised at the meeting that suspects are too often being released because they’re charged with misdemeanors instead of felonies.
Nieves gave an example of when officers apprehend a suspected thief who possesses several saw-off catalytic converters, saying a felony charge won’t be approved “unless you catch them red-handed. … There’s no way to prove these converters came from a a particular vehicle. That person gets charged with a misdemeanor and is bailed out.”
Tolbert said that the degree of charges are based on “the background of the person and other factors.”
There are programs in which an identification mark can be placed on a converter, and that could help in an investigation to show who the victim was, Nieves said
An Edgebrook resident reported at the meeting that catalytic converters have been stolen from his vehicles on two occasions since 2021. He added that he also had a checks stolen from a mailbox near his home.
“I didn’t get one detective calling me back on these,” he said.
Officials urged residents to call 911 if they see a converter theft in progress and not to confront the thieves because many of them are carrying guns.
On Dec. 25 a resident reported to police that when he confronted three men who were tampering with his parked vehicle in the 6200 block of North Caldwell Avenue, one of them pointed a handgun with a laser attachment at him, according to police.
Concerns also were raised at the meeting about drag racing in the Edgebrook-Sauganash area and about the need for more patrol officers.
There are 12 beats in the 16th District, and two officers are normally assigned to one patrol car per beat, although one-officer patrol cars are sometimes used on the day shift, officials said. Tactical and other response cars also are available to help, they said.
More than 100 people attended the 90-minute meeting, which was held at the Edgebrook Lutheran Church, 5252 W. Devon Ave.
Additional issues discussed at the meeting are outlined in the following article: