Suburban police want education, not arrests, for stay-at-home violators
Is going out going to get you locked up?
Almost certainly not, suburban law enforcement officials told us this week when we asked how their departments are enforcing Gov. J.B. Pritzker's nearly week-old order to stay at home and keep businesses closed.
"Voluntary compliance is the name of the game," Carpentersville Police Chief Michael Kilbourne said Wednesday. "We have had very few problems when and where we have had to confront or address behavior that could be considered in violation."
When his officers do spy a potential violation, they are handing out flyers, in English and Spanish, explaining the order.
While police say they will break up large groups, they're not looking to interfere with citizens going about their daily lives.
"Rest assured, Buffalo Grove police officers will not be stopping cars to see where they are headed," Buffalo Grove Chief Steve Casstevens said this week during a virtual town hall meeting. "We are not going to be stopping pedestrians to ask you why you are out of your home."
"Our officers may approach if they witness large gatherings or receive calls about large gatherings and ask them to comply with the stay-at-home order, especially if they are not practicing social distancing," Mount Prospect police officer Greg Sill said.
What about businesses?
Geneva police received complaints about a JoAnn Fabrics staying open and spoke with management, according to Cmdr. Brian Maduzia. Nationally, JoAnn Fabrics has said it is keeping its stores open, barring state or local orders, because it supplies materials for many home-based businesses, plus crafting provides mental-health relief during this trying time, according to a letter its CEO posted on its website.
Its website also advertises that crafters can make "protective nonsurgical masks and gowns" for medical workers.
Geneva police and the chain's lawyers have turned to the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for guidance. As of Thursday, the store was open, but just for curbside pickup.
Aurora has hand-delivered three citations to businesses, police spokesman Paris Lewbel said.
Lake County sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Covelli said individuals could face charges of disorderly or reckless conduct if they don't disperse from a large group when instructed by deputies. Information about noncompliant businesses will be forwarded to the state's attorney for civil penalty consideration, he said.
Secret-taping conviction stands
A former suburban attorney couldn't muster the legal argument to persuade a state appeals court to throw out his conviction for video recording a teenage girl undressing in a fitness club changing room.
In a unanimous ruling issued earlier this week, the 2nd District Appellate Court rejected all three reasons James Zeas argued he should be awarded a new trial, or at least a lighter sentence.
The 51-year-old Lake Barrington man was found guilty of child pornography in 2017 after a trial that included testimony that he secretly recorded the girl changing into a swimsuit at an Algonquin health club in 2009.
Zeas, whose law license has been suspended, wasn't charged until 2015, when his wife turned over a DVD containing a recording of the video during the couple's divorce proceedings.
He was sentenced to four years in prison but paroled in December, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Police chiefs honor Berlin
Congrats to DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin for being named one of two Public Officials of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.
Berlin shares the honor with state Rep. Terri Bryant of downstate Mount Vernon.
According to the association, Berlin spearheaded a push for additional penalties for those convicted of financially exploiting the elderly and sex offenses against students.
He also led efforts to oppose the elimination of the felony murder rule and cash bail for violent crimes.
"When he speaks, people listen," association Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said in an announcement of the award. "His is an important voice when he goes to Springfield to testify on critical legislation. We in law enforcement are so grateful for Mr. Berlin's leadership in Illinois' criminal justice system."
Berlin and Bryant were unanimous choices of the association's nine-member Board of Officers. They were supposed to be recognized publicly on March 18 in Springfield, but that event, like so many others, fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.