Suburban police chiefs have reason to give thanks this year, even after Aurora factory shooting
On a bitterly cold day in February, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman got some of the worst news someone in her job ever gets: Five of her officers had just been shot.
The officers were wounded -- and five citizens killed -- during a Feb. 15 workplace shooting rampage at the Henry Pratt Co. factory in the city. The gunman also died in a shootout with police.
So it's no surprise when we asked Ziman what she's grateful for this Thanksgiving week, her thoughts turned to the mass shooting and how it affected her department, the families of its victims, and the city.
"This has been a very challenging year for the City of Aurora and the Aurora Police Department as a result of the mass shooting," Ziman told us. "I am so grateful that our five officers are healing from their injuries and are still here with us. I allow myself to feel that gratitude, but I can't do so without a profound sense of sadness for the five people we lost on that day. I think about their families and I ache for their loss.
"This Thanksgiving I'm trying to find a way to have a grateful heart while keeping the victims and those who are missing them in the forefront of my thoughts."
Ziman wasn't the only chief we gathered around our virtual Thanksgiving table this week and asked what they're grateful for as law enforcement leaders. Here's what the others had to say:
Steve Casstevens, Buffalo Grove: I'm thankful for my health, my family, for the continued dedicated work by all the members of the Buffalo Grove Police Department, and thankful for the residents who support us so much throughout the year.
Ana Lalley, Elgin: I am thankful for my husband, family, friends, an awesome police department full of talented, caring people, and an amazing community that I have the honor and privilege of serving as chief for.
Steve Husak, Lake Zurich: I am thankful for the supportive Lake Zurich community. Although some parts of the nation struggle with building positive relationships with local law enforcement, we do not experience that in Lake Zurich. Our police department enjoys a very high level of support in a wide variety of situations. Our officers and staff see this every day when they are responding to emergencies, enforcing laws and ordinances, attending events, and assisting the public with other requests for service. We all appreciate and acknowledge the smiles and waves!
I am also thankful for the excellent staff that I have the opportunity to work with each day. From the newest civilian staff member, to the most experienced police officer -- each brings dedication, empathy, and professionalism when serving the public. I am particularly thankful for our telecommunications staff. They handle over 19,000 9-1-1 and over 51,000 nonemergency telephone calls each year for the six police and two fire departments that we dispatch for. Many of these calls involve a crisis on the other end of the phone -- with the caller having a very bad day. Through it all, our telecommunicators instill calm and confidence to get emergency personnel where they are needed efficiently and effectively.
David Daigle, Palatine: Personally and professionally I'm most thankful for my family, for the men and women of the Palatine Police Department and for the support of the leaders and residents of Palatine.
Bill Wolf, Schaumburg: From a professional point of view, I am thankful to lead a police department of professional women and men that value every interaction they have as an opportunity to leave people with a positive perception of our department and our profession.
The Secret's out
Just for sending one gift valued at $10 this holiday season, you could receive as many as 36 presents in return.
Sound too good to be true? It is.
The Better Business Bureau is reminding people that these kind of "Secret Sister" gift exchanges are, for all intents, illegal pyramid schemes that could cost you money, expose you to penalties for mail fraud and make you an easier mark for identity theft.
Here's how it works: Users recruit "sisters" -- usually by email or a social media site like Facebook -- with the promise they could receive dozens of gifts in return if they buy a $10 gift for a stranger on the internet, provide their name, address and email, and recruit six more friends to take part.
Of course, there's no guarantee those gifts will ever arrive. Like any pyramid scheme, those at the top reap the rewards and those who join later receive little if any return.
"Those who get involved often do so thinking that the amount needed to participate is so small, it's worth the risk if they'll receive gifts worth maybe a couple hundred dollars," said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "I'm sure they have not considered the legality of participating, but pyramid schemes are a serious offense. The best thing people can do is avoid it altogether. If you receive an invitation to participate, ignore it, it's not worth it."
A 100-year prison sentence for a crime that's not murder is extreme and unusual, but in the case of former Woodridge resident Tevin Rainey, it's appropriate, a state appeals court has ruled.
Rainey, now 26, received the 100-year term in 2017 after a jury convicted him of charges he broke into an 87-year-old woman's Westmont home on New Year's Day 2015, sexually assaulted her, then forced her to drive to an ATM at gunpoint and withdraw $320 from her bank account.
In his appeal, Rainey argued DuPage County Judge Brian Telander improperly enhanced the sentence by considering the victim's age and also failed to take into account his young age and "rehabilitative potential." The court unanimously disagreed, finding Telander did not abuse his judicial discretion and noted the 100-year term is 20 years less than the maximum Rainey faced.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin praised the ruling in a written statement this week.
"His attempt to reduce his sentence for a crime that the trial court correctly deemed a crime that 'shocks the conscience of the community' demonstrates Mr. Rainey's self-consumed, compassionless, repulsive outlook on society," Berlin said. "He has certainly earned each and every day of his sentence."
According to state records, Rainey is serving his sentence at the maximum-security Menard Correction Center downstate. His projected parole date is Jan. 20, 2100.
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