Anyone who has known me over the years will tell you that I have had a considerable problem with the policies of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office under Kim Foxx. To be clear, my problems have been with Kim Foxx’s policies, not the individual prosecutors.

My objection to her policies go back years and covered everything from traffic and drug offenses to violent criminal acts to her policy during the height of the pandemic. During this time, the State’s Attorney’s Office put out an operational order to their assistant state’s attorneys (who were working felony review) stating they did not have to come to police stations during the felony review process but work remotely, if possible. 

This was a tremendous change from what they had previously done. When I wrote a letter to Chief Judge Timothy Evans and Kim Foxx, they completely disregarded it. I requested that police officers be able to bond prisoners out from the station on low-level felony crimes; again this was rejected.

Any street officer or detective will tell you that the felony review process in Cook County (referred to by police officers as the felony rejection process) is totally flawed. First of all, the State’s Attorney’s Office, being the prosecutor, is supposed to work with the police. They are not the public defender’s office. They are not a private defense counsel. They are prosecutors who are under state statute and oath to prosecute cases of criminal acts that have the evidence to bring forward those charges. 

Kim Foxx and her administration have, without question, ruined the relationship between the State’s Attorney’s Office and police officers. Ask any police officer in Cook County, privately and off the record, and they would vouch for my statement. They would be fearful of making such a statement in their official capacity as a police officer, because they would likely be severely disciplined or even lose their job.

In light of the Jussie Smollett case, and the 60-page report that came out from the special prosecutor, you should know that this is not a one off — it happens routinely. 

The political views of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office play into the felony review process without a doubt. Many times the Cook County office will reject the charges outright, even though the Illinois State Statute is different. 

They also have devised this scheme called the “CI,” Continuing Investigation. What that really means is that the State’s Attorney’s Office does not believe the officer has enough evidence to move forward with the case, despite what the statute says, or they want the officers to do more investigation and give them a specific list of items they want handled. 

However, this is impossible to make happen in the 48-72 hour period that police officers can hold defendants before they appear in bond court. Small suburban police agencies in Cook County can never make this happen. 

While Chicago PD may have eight, 10, or even 12 detectives working on a single case, it would be rare for a suburban police department to have any more than two working on a case, unless they are being assisted by a task force, and that’s uncertain.

At times during my career as police chief in Riverside (now retired), Kim Foxx and her top aides, simply marginalized what I had to say, laughed, and told me my views were ridiculous — that they did not represent what the general public wanted. However, they never once said my views did not represent what the state criminal statutes were and what their obligations were as prosecutors. And by the way, the general public wants its police leaders to follow the law. 

Make no mistake, I am not a believer that every time police call felony review for approval of felony charges they should agree — just that police only want a fair shake. When they call felony review, they want to present the facts and get an up or down vote on whether felony charges will be approved. However, what is happening now is they are being rejected for political ideology. 

The result of this, in the long run, are that officers will be less likely to call felony review and just charge people who have misdemeanors and bond them out. After all, they will just be getting I-bonded (signature bond) at the Cook County Bond Court anyway. 

There is a tremendous amount of apathy toward law enforcement today. There are bad cops — arrest them and send them to prison if they are guilty. There are poor leaders — get rid of them. There are police chiefs and sheriffs who do not deserve or belong in those positions — replace them. But in the same vein, it is time to make a change in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office too.

Tom Weitzel is the retired police chief of Riverside.