Ring doorbells, bodycam footage keeping prosecutors busier than ever

Halfway through 2019, Kane County prosecutors have charged 33 fewer felony cases compared to the same point last year, a decrease of less than 3%.

But State's Attorney Joe McMahon said prosecutors in some ways are busier than ever with new types of evidence, such as surveillance from Wifi-enabled doorbells, police body cameras and home and business surveillance, compared to several years ago.

"We're now seeing video come in from Ring doorbells," McMahon said this week during his monthly media briefing. "We're now getting actual video, audio and digital information that must be reviewed and analyzed and ultimately stored."

In recent months, video from doorbell cameras helped police arrest a burglary suspect, and data from a Ring doorbell was used to confirm the identity of a suspect in a Sleepy Hollow home invasion, attempted murder and sex assault. Both court cases are pending.

McMahon said reviewing body camera video from multiple officers responding to a violent crime or even a DUI arrest has increased the workload for prosecutors compared to several years ago.

"That's how so much more evidence is coming into this office," he added.

As of the end of June, Kane County prosecutors had filed 1,282 felony cases, down 33 cases from the same point in 2018.

After decade of decline, felony cases increased in 2016 by nearly 7% over 2015.

Felony cases in 2019 are on pace to hit 2,564, which actually would be a 2.8% increase over the 2,494 felonies charged in 2018.

The high water mark for felony cases in Kane came in 2007, when 3,849 cases were charged.

McMahon said FBI data, which is about a year behind, showed a decrease in violent crime in the Midwest and Kane County was following that trend.

Misdemeanor cases also are down a little more than 3% from this point in 2018. McMahon said 2,005 cases had been charged halfway through 2019 compared to 2,070 in 2018.

He said two factors in this decline could be the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and increasing the threshold for felony retail theft from $300 in merchandise to $500.

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