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Article updated: 1/9/2013 5:50 AM

Kane County felony cases down 10 percent

By Harry Hitzeman

The number of felony cases charged in Kane County each year continues to decline. In 2012, prosecutors authorized 2,620 felony cases, a drop of about 10 percent from 2011 and about one-third fewer than 2007, the record year in Kane that saw more than 3,800 felony cases charged.

State's Attorney Joe McMahon is pleased with the drop in crime, although he says it is difficult to put a finger on exactly what is causing the decline.

"It's a trend in the right direction," he said Tuesday during his monthly meeting with reporters. "It's hard to really pinpoint what the cause is. I don't really know why the number is going down. I'm pleased to see it."

McMahon said his office is getting fewer calls from area police departments looking for authorization for felony charges; his prosecutors are still approving the same percentage of felony cases when called.

There were 2,909 felony cases charged in 2011, according to court records.

The 2011 tally also was down nearly 8 percent from the 3,158 felony cases in 2010. The record for the most felony cases charged in a year in Kane County was 3,846 in 2007 and cases have declined every year since then.

McMahon praised Aurora police and the city's residents for helping achieve a first since 1946: The city did not have a single homicide in 2012.

He also noted that Elgin and Carpentersville also did not have any gang-related murders last year, and credited authorities, residents and after school organizations for helping to fight gangs.

McMahon said Elgin and Carpentersville, along with Aurora, have been areas where authorities are focusing their efforts to make gang life as uncomfortable as possible through aggressive prosecutions of violent crimes and civil lawsuits to stop gang activity. He said residents have fought back by reporting crimes, not being afraid to work with police and offering children and young adults alternatives to gang life.

"Our goal here is not to push the gangs out of Kane County. Our goal is to get rid of gang activity," McMahon said. "Gang life is not a positive experience. It generally ends in one of two ways -- either somebody is dead or somebody is in prison."

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