Wheeling police giving social media followers 'inside' look at the department

  • Wheeling police have launched a social media program called "Inside the Wheeling Police Department" to help residents understand department policies and operations. "We want to make sure everyone knows who we are and what we stand for," Chief Jamie Dunne said.

    Wheeling police have launched a social media program called "Inside the Wheeling Police Department" to help residents understand department policies and operations. "We want to make sure everyone knows who we are and what we stand for," Chief Jamie Dunne said. Courtesy of the Wheeling Police Department

 
Updated 7/3/2020 1:05 PM

One suburban department is trying to answer those questions with the launch of a new social media program called "Inside the Wheeling Police Department."

Every week, Wheeling police will take to their social media platforms -- Facebook, Instagram and Twitter -- to explain a different facet of their work and policies. Next week they'll talk about use of force. Future topics include training, use of cameras, civilian oversight, militarization of police and social services.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Chief Jamie Dunne told us Thursday the department frequently shares information about its operations with the public, but in recent weeks he realized it was being seen by only a small part of the community.

"I wrongly assumed that everybody understood the quality and progressiveness of the Wheeling Police Department," he said. "In a sense, we were in a bubble. We want to make sure everyone knows who we are and what we stand for."

As an example, Dunne said that after Floyd's killing, many residents pressed the department to sign on to the "8 Can't Wait" platform. It's a listing of eight policies -- from a ban on chokeholds to requiring officers to step in when a colleague uses improper force -- that advocates say would reduce police violence and increase community safety.

Dunne said the department already embraces those principles and was among the first to sign the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police's 10 Shared Principles of interaction, created in 2014 with the Illinois NAACP.

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"I'm very proud of the fact our policies preexisted the social unrest," Dunne said.

Different sentence, same result

A 97-year prison sentence is almost certainly the equivalent of a life term, even for a teenage defendant.

But what about 66 years? Same thing, a state appeals court ruled late last month in a case stemming from the gang-related killing of an East Aurora High School student.

Zachary Reyes
Zachary Reyes -

The Second District Illinois Appellate Court has ordered a new sentence for former Aurora resident Zachary Reyes, ruling that the 66-year term imposed by a Kendall County judge was too long for a defendant who was just 16 years old when he committed his crime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That sentence was handed down in 2018, after the Illinois Supreme Court tossed out Reyes' initial 97-year term. The court ruled it was effectively a life sentence, which is unconstitutional for most juvenile defendants.

Reyes was convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder for the 2009 slaying of Jason Ventura, a 17-year-old high school student. Authorities say Reyes, at the urging of older gang members, opened fire on a car in Oswego, killing Ventura and seriously wounding a second teen.

In last week's unanimous ruling, the appellate court said the judge that handed down the second sentence didn't find Reyes beyond rehabilitation.

"In this case, the trial court imposed a de facto life sentence on the defendant, but the record does not reflect a determination by the trial court that the defendant was among the rarest of juvenile offenders whose conduct showed irretrievable depravity, permanent incorrigibility, or irreparable corruption beyond the possibility of rehabilitation," Justice Mary Seminara-Schostok wrote.

Reyes' third sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

After 5 years, judge says get moving

DuPage County Judge Jeffrey MacKay really wants a 5-year-old murder case on his docket to get moving.

To that end, on Monday he told defendant Launden Luckett he has two weeks to pick a date for his trial.

Launden Luckett
Launden Luckett -

Luckett is charged with stabbing his girlfriend to death in her Woodridge apartment in February 2015.

In October, he dismissed his public defender and received permission to represent himself.

At a routine status hearing Monday, Luckett said he's had trouble getting time to use the computers in the DuPage County jail library, in part because of COVID-19 restrictions, and he needs more time to learn about jury selection and trial procedure.

"I understand it has been a long time," Luckett said, adding that he doesn't expect to be ready for trial before the end of the year.

Then, he asked, "Would you grant me the right to reappoint an attorney?"

The answer was an emphatic "NO."

"I'm not going to appoint another attorney and delay (the case) more," MacKay said.

• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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