Daily Herald Opinion: Important part of police work is learning something from each crime

This editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Daily Herald Editorial Board.

Ask any cop. Not all crimes can be prevented.

Crimes of passion, for instance, are difficult to predict and prevent.

But crimes of opportunity, such as burglaries, thefts and, in some cases crimes of violence, can be addressed.

Police agencies don't just respond to crimes - they study crime in an effort to educate people on how to remove opportunities for further crimes to occur.

Prevention is the real unsung role of police work.

When a major or novel crime occurs, police look at motives, underlying causes and holes in security. And if they're smart, they set up procedures and safeguards to stave off a repeat performance.

Five years ago, a Kane County jail inmate was in a hospital room at Northwest Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, recovering from surgery to remove chunks of a rubber sandal he had eaten in jail. A sheriff's deputy from the jail uncuffed him when he asked to use the restroom. Afterward, the deputy did not handcuff him again, and the inmate wrested his gun away from him.

The inmate ordered a nurse into an office and demanded she give him her clothes. Another nurse entered the office and was taken hostage.

He took her to the ambulance bay, and when the inmate saw police, he forced her into a room where he held her for several hours at gunpoint, threatening to kill her.

During that time, he raped and tortured her. When the SWAT team heard him fire a shot, they stormed the room and shot him dead.

Lawsuits were filed against the deputy and the hospital. It likely cost Sheriff Don Kramer his job in the 2018 election.

What have we learned from this horrific crime? What is being done to prevent something like this from happening again?

Sheriff Ron Hain, who beat Kramer in 2018 and is running unopposed in the June 28 primary, responded to our Susan Sarkauskas for her report about the anniversary.

Hain said his deputies strictly adhere to the policy requiring at least two corrections officers accompany and monitor inmates when they're outside the jail. The sheriff's tactical training unit was established in 2019 to provide training for all 250 sworn members of the office, with monthly tactical and self-defense training.

That, he said, has resulted in a decrease in use of force. Officers also were given and trained in the use of Tasers. That has resulted in a big drop in workers' comp claims, he said. And the sheriff's office meets regularly with the security team at Delnor to ensure they're on the same page and there are no gaps in security.

It's always important to learn from one's mistakes, and in this case the sheriff's office seems to have done so.

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