Illinois Police Add DUI Patrols For Thanksgiving Weekend

Drunk TurkeyThe night before Thanksgiving is often one of the most popular drinking nights of the year, and Illinois police are taking extra measures to cut down on the number of drunk drivers.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are two of the more well-known days on the extended holiday weekend, but it’s tonight -Blackout Wednesday as it is known by some young people – that is of the most concern to local police.

“Obviously stores will be busy, we have plenty of establishments here which will be serving liquor,” said Batavia police director Kevin Bretz. “But we’re prepared for anything that comes up.”

Batavia police aren’t the only ones amping up their DUI patrols. Similar to years past, Kane County will be conducting a “No Refusal” program. Under normal circumstances, a person does not need to submit to a blood or breath test unless they give consent or an officer presents the suspect with a warrant. A warrant typically takes a few hours to be approved by a judge, but tonight and through this weekend judges will be available to sign off on search warrants around the clock. This means suspected drunk drivers will be required to submit to a test once presented with a search warrant or face the consequences.

The Geneva Police Department is also letting residents know that’s they’ll be stepping up DUI patrols. The department will have two extra squad cars out on the roads between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 3 a.m Thursday to catch any patrons who drive home from the bar when they should be in a cab.

“The purpose is to be proactive and hopefully deter poor decisions on the part of drivers,” said Geneva patrol operations commander Julie Nash.

Added police presence and better decisions from drivers should help reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents this holiday weekend. Last year seven people died in car accidents during Thanksgiving weekend, and three of those crashes involved a drunk driver. In all, 723 drivers suffered an injury in a car accident over the holiday weekend last year.

Brett Appelman Comments

Make good decisions out there tonight. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights for drunk drivers of the year. Not only are you more likely to get pulled over if you drive drunk, you could end up injured if you are struck by a drunk driver.

Plan a ride home before you start drinking. A $40 cab ride is much better than a $10,000 DUI bill because you made a poor choice. If you do end up in a rough spot this weekend, give us a call at (630) 717-7801. Have a wonderful holiday!

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Illinois State Bar Attempting To Change DUI Law

Illinois Marijuana DUIThe Illinois state bar association is attempting to change the state’s current DUI law in the wake of a tragic accident.

The incident that spurred the call for change occurred back in December 2011 when Scott Shirey was driving his two 10-year-old twins to swimming practice. Along the way their car was t-boned by a distracted driver who ran a red light. One of Shirey’s kids died in the crash, and the other was severely injured.

Despite adhering to traffic laws, Shirey faced the possibility of 14 years in prison because a blood test found he had marijuana in his system. His attorney said Shirey admitted to smoking marijuana, but that was a month prior to the crash. His attorney argued that he clearly wasn’t under the influence at the time of the accident.

“Nothing can possibly illustrate this idiotic law more than the Scott Shirey case,” defense attorney Patrick O’Byrne said. “It’s incomprehensible how bad the law is. It’s a worst-case scenario, charged with the homicide of your own son for smoking pot that had nothing to do with the accident.”

Knowing that there was little they could do to challenge the law as it was written, Shirey decided his only option was to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 30 months of probation, while the driver who caused the crash received two months of periodic imprisonment and nine months of home confinement.

“We had no choice. We had no defense,” O’Byrne said. “Thank God the judge gave him probation instead of prison.”

Acting on what they believe is a travesty of justice, the Illinois State Bar Association submitted a bill to change the current law. They said the DUI statute shouldn’t apply to drivers who aren’t under the influence at the time of an accident or at fault for causing the accident.

Related source: Daily Herald

Chicago Woman Ticketed For Going Topless

Public indecency illinoisAmericans are endowed with the freedom to bear arms, but a Chicago woman has filed a federal lawsuit after being ticketed for baring her breasts.

Sonoko Tagami, 41, a stauch supporter of the bare-chested advocacy group GoTopless, filed the federal lawsuit after she was ticketed for appearing topless in public back in August. Police issued Tagami a $140 ticket for violating Chicago’s decency law, which states:

Any person who shall appear, bathe, sunbathe, walk or be in any public park, playground, beach or the waters adjacent thereto, or any school facility and the area adjacent thereto, or any municipal building and the areas adjacent thereto, or any public way within the City of Chicago in such a manner that the genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus, anal region, or pubic hair region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person, is exposed to public view or is not covered by an opaque covering, shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense.

In her lawsuit, Tagami claims the city statute is purposely vague and is a violation of free speech. She also claims the law is sexually discriminant.

“It’s a poorly written, very very old ordinance that would, I think, make illegal many of the fashions that women wear today,” said Tagami’s attorney Kenneth Flaxman. “She believed she had appropriate body paint covering the naughty parts of her breasts.”

Flaxman also noted that Tagami has been participating in topless demonstrations in years past and has never had any issues with city officers.

“She was out there for several years making a statement about the absurdity of the law, and each time she had opaque body paint and the cops thought it was cute,” Flaxman said. “l guess this time the cops didn’t think it was OK.”

Tagami is hoping the federal case will call attention to the law and her cause.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Examining Crime on Illinois College Campuses

Illinois Campus CrimeA report on crime on college campuses found that more sexual offenses occur at the University of Illinois than any other state school, but another school is home to more robberies and aggravated assaults.

Considering the University of Illinois has nearly twice as many enrolled students than any other school on the list, it’s not too surprising it tops the list, but it’s the University of Illinois at Chicago that has the most reported robberies and aggravated assaults. UIC is second in the state in enrollment with 27,589 enrolled students.

The annual campus security reports are due each year by October 1 and are required under the Clery Act, which was established in 1991. The Clery Act was established after 19-year-old Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986.

Campuses are required to report all crimes that fall under these seven categories.

  • Criminal homicide
  • Sex offenses
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson

Campus Statistics

Three of the most common offenses committed on college campuses are sexual offenses, assaults and robberies. Below, you can see which state schools reported the most of each offense in 2013.

Sex Offenses

1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 20 reports.

2. Northern Illinois University – 12 reports.

3. Eastern Illinois University – 11 reports.

Assaults

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 36 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 23 reports.

3. Southern Illinois University Carbondale – 16 reports.

Robberies

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 16 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 12 reports.

3. Northern Illinois University – 6 reports.

Thankfully, no murders occurred on Illinois college campuses in 2013. For an in-depth look at the statistics, check out this infographic.

Related source: Huffington Post

Illinois Police Adding Extra Halloween DUI Patrols

DUI roadblockGrants from the Illinois Department of Transportation are making it easier for many departments to police drunk drivers on Halloween and the holiday weekend.

Some departments are putting the extra funds towards DUI roadblocks, while others are simply using the funds to put more troopers on the road this weekend. The Lake County Sheriff’s office received a $135,000 grant from IDoT, and they plan to add roadblocks during most of the upcoming holidays.

“For this grant program, we anticipate conducting the enforcement campaigns during the weeks of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s (Day), the Super Bowl, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day,” the Lake County Board said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will also conduct “saturation patrols” during the Halloween weekend as they expect more people to take part in the holiday because it falls on a Friday. Similar patrols will take place in Will and Kendall County.

“Officers assigned to these details will be checking for impaired drivers, occupant/child restraint violations, cell phone violations, and other violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code,” said Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton.

Extra Emphasis

As noted above, the extra emphasis on pedestrian safety this Halloween is due in part to the fact that the holiday falls on a Friday. This means more teens and adults will be off to spooky parties on the same night that ghosts and ghouls hit the streets to go Trick or Treating.

As USA Today reports, Halloween is by far the most dangerous day for children in terms of being struck by vehicles. A 20-year study conducted between 1990 and 2010 found that an average of 5.5 people under the age of 18 are killed by vehicles each year on Halloween. That’s more the double the average of every other day on the calendar.

So it’s no wonder that Illinois police want to ramp up DUI patrols this Halloween. The holiday is already the most dangerous day for kids before you factor in drunk drivers. If you’re going to a Halloween party this weekend, please plan a sober ride.

Related source: News Sun, The Times Weekly, USA Today

 

Illinois Law: Sex Offenders and Halloween 

Illinois Halloween LawsHalloween is just around the corner, and children will soon be running up and down driveways in hopes of filling their candy bucket to the brim. We’re often busy on Halloween too, as the night usually brings a spike in calls for certain juvenile crimes like ding dong ditching and vandalism.

Halloween night carries a common theme for anyone with a child; Be mindful of strangers. Parents usually chaperone younger kids on their Halloween jaunt, and oftentimes they’ll inspect the candy before the tired youngsters dive into a late-night sugar rush, but police are once again providing parents with a Halloween safety tip – Avoid homes where the lights are off. Maybe the lights are off because nobody is home or they simply don’t want to be disturbed, but there could be another reason. The person inside could be a sex offender.

That line isn’t meant to postulate that every dark house is home to a pedophile, but the fact of the matter is that Illinois passed a law last year called the Child Sex Offender Holiday Costume Prohibition law. Terms of the law state that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from participating in a holiday event with children under the age of 18. This means that sex offenders are forbidden from handing out candy on Halloween.

“If the lights aren’t on at the residence, don’t go up to the door,” said O’Fallon Police Lt. Jim Cavins. “What sex offenders must do … similar to somebody who doesn’t want to deal with trick-or-treaters … they have to turn out their outside lights.”

Similar to last Halloween when the law went into effect, police officers will be completing compliance checks to ensure offenders are following the law. If an officer finds that an offender is in violation of the law, they could face revocation of parole and additional jail time.

We’re not trying to scare anyone with this post, and the vast majority of reformed sex offenders want nothing to do with handing out candy on Halloween, but a simple reminder of the law can’t hurt.

Follow these tips to have a safe and happy Halloween!

1.  Trick or Treat in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods.

2.  Always make sure children are supervised by an adult.

3.  Bring a flashlight to see where you are going (and to help others see you!)

4.  Report any suspicious behavior to the proper authorities.

5.  If you or a family member runs into legal trouble on Halloween night, give Appelman & Associates a call.

Related source: Belleville News-Democrat

Illinois Lawmakers To Discuss Police Body Cameras Friday

Police Body CamerasMembers of the Illinois House Judiciary Committee will meet today to discuss the possibility of outfitting police officers with body cameras, and how the cameras could affect other laws.

More police departments are looking into the idea of outfitting officers with recording devices in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Many proponents of the cameras say they’ll keep officers and civilians on their best behavior, but others wonder if the constant recording is an invasion of privacy. Legislators also want to discuss who has access to the recordings once they’re filed.

“Where is that data stored?”asked Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz. “How much of it is kept (and) for how long? And then who has access to it? Does the media have access to every interaction?”

The discussion will also be used to help write eavesdropping legislation in the near future. Earlier this year the Illinois Supreme Court rejected an eavesdropping proposal after the law was deemed too broad.

Rep. Nekritz outlined some more talking points that will be discussed Friday.

“Everything from: when is the camera on? Do the police have to give notice to everyone that they talk to that they’re recording? Are there some conversations that are protected? If you have a victim of domestic violence that is interacting with a policeman, does that have to be recorded,” Nekritz said.

Other departments across the nation have adopted police body cameras, and the early reports show that they have been successful in preventing conflict and complaints. The Rialto Police Department in California equipped each officer with body cameras, and an analysis of department data uncovered a 50 percent drop in the total number of use-of-force incidents and a ten-fold reduction in the number of citizen complains in the 12 months following their adoption.

Brett Appelman comments

The prospect of being recorded keeps everyone on their best behavior because they don’t want to be seen or caught in a negative light. Not only would cameras remind people to act more civilized, the recording would act as a third party observer. Far too often cases come down to he said-she said arguments, and without a neutral witness, it can be hard to discern who is telling the truth.

Based on everything I’ve heard about body cameras, it sounds as if the question is more “When will police get them” than “Will police get them?” The equipment, storage, processing and review doesn’t come cheap, but it’s an investment that would easily pay for itself in terms of a reduction of lawsuits against police. Considering the Chicago Police Department paid out $500 million in settlements over the last decade, the cameras would likely pay for themselves countless times over.

Related source: Daily Herald, Northern Public Radio

Movie Technology Helping Combat Crime in Chicago 

Minority ReportIf you haven’t seen the movie Minority Report, try to track down a copy this weekend. Without giving away too much of the plot, the movie centers around a futuristic way to prevent crime. With the help of three precognitive humans, known as “precogs,” the Washington DC police department can essentially look into the future and prevent crime before it occurs. The movie takes a twist when one of the precogs has a vision that the main character, played by Tom Cruise, will commit murder, and thus a warrant is issued for his arrest. A chase ensues, all while the viewer contemplates the moral ramifications of the idea, “Can you be guilty of a crime without attempting it?”

While we don’t yet have precogs on the police force, the Chicago PD is using a similar technology in hopes of deterring future crimes. The technology attempts to look into the future using a mathematical algorithm to formulate a list of individuals deemed likely to be involved in a crime. The names the formula spits out land on what the CPD calls its “heat list.”

Unlike Minority Report, a person on the list isn’t arrested or tried for a future crime, but they are informed that the police are keeping a close eye on their actions. Police believe the extra attention can help deter crime.

“This program will become a national best practice,” said CPD Commander Jonathan Lewin. “This will inform police departments around the country and around the world on how best to utilize predicative policing to solve problems. This is about saving lives.”

At What Cost?

While the technology sounds harmless enough, as a person wouldn’t end up on the list unless they met several factors – another CPD Commander put it bluntly, saying “if you end up on this list, there’s a reason you’re there” – and even then they only get a warning from the police, those who oppose the technology say it’s invasive, and at times, racist.

The exact science behind the algorithm remains hidden, and a Freedom of Information request to obtain the list was denied out of safety concerns, saying its release could “endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel or any other person.” Without knowing how someone ends up on the list, some wonder if it relies too heavily on demographic information, like age, ethnicity and living location. Some fear this could unfairly target minorities.

“First of all, how are we deciding who gets on the list and who decides who gets on the list?” said attorney Hanni Fakhoury. “Are people ending up on this list simply because they live in a crappy part of town and know people who have been troublemakers? We are living in a time when information is easily shareable and easily accessible, so, let’s say we know that someone is connected to another person who was arrested. Or, let’s say we know that someone’s been arrested in the past. Is it fair to take advantage of that information? Are we just perpetuating the problem?”

He added, “How many people of color are on this heat list? Is the list all black kids? Is this list all kids from Chicago’s South Side? If so, are we just closing ourselves off to this small subset of people?”

Without going into any details, the National Insititute of Justice, which provides grants to police departments interested in using predictive technology, simply stated that the algorithm only finds people “who the model has determined are those most likely to be involved in a shooting or homicide, with probabilities that are hundreds of times that of an ordinary citizen.”

So where do you land on the spectrum? Do you believe police departments should be able to profile and compile lists of potential criminals, or do you believe the technology is crossing into murky legal waters?

Related source: The Verge

Illinois Lawmakers Increase Penalties For Fake IDs

Fake ID IllinoisIllinois lawmakers are attempting to cut down on fake ID use by increasing the penalties associated with unlawful possession of an ID.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said the state is launching a new campaign called “Fake IDs…The Real Truth” in hopes of discouraging individuals from seeking out forged IDs.

White said the majority of fake identification offenders are college kids looking to buy alcohol or get into a bar, but the seemingly harmful crime can have huge real world implications. Aside from the possible criminal penalties, White warns that some websites offering fake IDs with real information are actually fronts to seize and sell personal information.

“On top of breaking the Illinois law, and risking their driving privileges, these students are putting themselves at risk for identity theft,” he said.”

White added that his office has caught more than 1,200 individuals in possession of a fake ID over the last two years.

Fake ID Penalties in Illinois

The penalties for possession a fake ID in Illinois are severe. A person can be subject to all the following penalties under Illinois law:

• Up to 1-3 years in jail

• A fine of $500 to $25,000

• 50 hours of community service

• A one-year driver’s license suspension

White seemed pretty adamant that anyone arrested for possession of a fake ID will have their driver’s license suspended for a year, so it’s imperative that you seek legal counsel if you are arrested for fake ID possession in Illinois. A stupid mistake shouldn’t put your college career and employment in jeopardy because you are stranded without a car for a full year. We’re more than happy to talk to you and provide you with a free case review to go over your options.

Related source: Central Illinois Proud

Naperville Popsicle Thief Gets Jail Sentence

Popsicle ThiefA local man caught with a popsicle in his pants will face jail time for his ice cold theft.

Guy E. Hansen, 54, of Wheaton was sentenced to 114 days in the DuPage County Jail after pleading guilty to charges of misdemeanor retail theft and criminal trespassing on Wednesday.

According to the police report, Hansen entered a Jewel-Osco store on July 29 with the intent to steal some merchandise. A security officer recognized Hansen as he left the store, and upon reviewing the security video, noticed that Hansen appeared to steal a loaf of bread from the bakery area.

Hansen returned to the store a short while later and made a beeline for the daily section, where he opened a bottle of Nesquik and drank it without paying. According to Sgt. Steve Schindlbeck, “Hansen also removed several yogurts from the cooler (and placed them) into a pants pocket.”

But Hansen’s crime spree didn’t stop there. He moved to the frozen foods section in hopes of grabbing a delicious dessert. According to Schindlbeck, Hansen opened a box and removed a frozen popsicle before placing it “into a front pants pocket.” Hansen then left the store, but authorities were already in pursuit.

Police quickly located Hansen outside the store and placed him under arrest. The police report states that the value of the stolen items totaled $5.18.

Nearly four months in jail for such a minor crime may seem harsh, but as your might have guessed, this wasn’t Hansen’s first run-in with the law. Hansen was already on parole from two charges of burglary and retail theft from back in 2011. A criminal records search also revealed that Hansen has served three prison terms since 1998 for a variety of crimes including robbery, burglary, aggravated battery, retail theft and drug possession.

As part of his sentencing, Hansen has been ordered never to return to the store.

Related source: Naperville Sun