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posted: 9/27/2011 5:00 AM

Cook County must revisit immigration policy

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  • Rodney S. Craig, Village President in the Village of Hanover Park.

      Rodney S. Craig, Village President in the Village of Hanover Park.

 
By Rodney S. Craig

Today I'm driven to respond to a series of events related to immigration policy that affect the quality of life in Hanover Park. The events reflect an attitude that is unhealthy and permeates Cook County politics.

First was the removal of the Immigration and Naturalization Service desk from the county jail, second is a breakdown in effective and timely communications between enforcement agencies, third is the release of undocumented individuals back to the street after having committed forcible felonies, and last is the passage of an ordinance that supports a "we don't care" attitude throughout Cook County government.

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The recent ordinance on immigration passed by the county board, regardless of verbiage, condones the release of those individuals charged with forcible felonies.

On July 31, two Hanover Park Police officers conducting a business check were accosted and assaulted by four individuals. Luckily, the officers received no major injuries. The individuals were charged with aggravated battery to police officers and aggravated resisting of a peace officer. One of the individuals also was charged with attempting to disarm a peace officer.

These were violent offenses that put our officers in danger, which I find very disconcerting. During the investigation, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency placed detainers on three of the suspects, including the one accused of attempting to disarm our police officer. Following their court appearance, the Cook County Sheriff's Department supervisor at the 3rd District Court in Rolling Meadows would not cooperate with ICE officers to have them detained, and they were released back into the community after posting bond.

It is my goal as village president to ensure that we work together, mutually supporting crime prevention with an initiative that manages those who seek to bring harm to our law enforcement personnel and others.

That behavior is unacceptable in Hanover Park. A personal pledge I've made to our police officers is that I expect our officers will return to their families at the end of their shift. I promise an efficient and effective training program as well as police department leaders who understand the risk that is undertaken every day while officers are on duty.

In today's environment, it is important that we extend that courtesy, when requested, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement given the seriousness of the felony offenses toward law enforcement.

When people commit a forcible felony upon officers of the law, they show no respect or value for the peace officers of our hometown. The county ordinance speaks to misdemeanors; however, the practice in the jail appears to mock expectations of the county board.

This degradation to manage those individuals who disrespect others carries over to the type of criminal activity that is reprehensible to everyone. Together we must find a way to support law enforcement and resolve this situation.

I call upon Cook County commissioners to resolve the issue by identifying what they will enforce, and I think it is reasonable to expect a solution that will work for all residents including those who are aspiring to become citizens.

• Rodney S. Craig is village president of Hanover Park.

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