FOP To Foxx: Obey The Law
In an effort to fight the refusal of Cook County Prosecutor Kimberly Foxx to protect police officers, the Fraternal Order of Police is advising all detectives to include “Notice of Victims’ Assertions of Right” forms in all cases in which officers are the victims of batteries or assaults.
The unilateral policy is intended to compel prosecutors under Foxx to provide police officers equal protection under the law—rights, the FOP asserts, Foxx has refused to provide to police officers during her tenure as prosecutor.
Over the course of the next few weeks, the FOP will meet with detectives and advise them that when they investigate cases in which police officers are the victims of violent crimes, they will have the officer sign the victims’ rights form and submit it as part of their regular paperwork.
FOP attorneys will then demand victims’ rights for all police officers, including “the right to be treated with fairness . . . the right to notice and to a hearing before a court ruling on a request for access to any of my records information, or communications which are privileged or confidential by law . . . the right to timely notification of all court proceedings . . . the right to communicate with the prosecution . . . the right to be heard at any post-arraignment court proceeding in which one of my rights is at issue and any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea, or sentencing.”
Foxx has generated heated criticism from FOP members. They claim Foxx rolls over on cases in which police officers are the victims of batteries, pleading the cases down from felony to misdemeanor and then not even keeping officers informed of the decision to do so.
In October, Matthew Ross made threats that if a former Chicago Police officer was not convicted of murder in a high-profile trial, the wives and kids of the officers in neighborhoods with a large population of police officers would be attacked. He also threatened that “every alderman’s office should be burned to the ground.”
Detectives were contacted about the threats. They arrested Ross and attempted to have felony charges approved, but prosecutors under Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx refused. Ross was charged with two misdemeanors and released on bond.
The FOP has asked federal prosecutors to investigate the case.
In August 2017, an officer was bit on the leg during a downtown demonstration called “Slut Walk.” The demonstrator, Lee Dewey, was accused of biting the officer. Dewey was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer, a felony.
Because of the bite, the officer was out of work for six weeks and ordered by doctors to take a concoction of medicines to prevent the possibility of an AIDS infection. The officer spent his time off simmering in anxiety.
But a plea agreement was apparently worked out between prosecutors and Dewey. His charge was reduced to a municipal code violation: unlawful assembly. The decision was made without the knowledge of the officer. The officer stated he would never have approved of such a reduction in the charge.
In December 2014, Officer Brendan Gill, who was working as a First District tactical officer, was pushed by one offender, then punched by another during a demonstration about police brutality, according to reports.
David Rucker and Alfredo Reyes were charged with felony aggravated battery to a police officer after they refused repeated commands to withdraw to the sidewalk. Gill suffered a badly swollen eye after being punched by Reyes, according to reports.
In April, officers involved in the case were notified that prosecutors wanted to plead the case down to a misdemeanor.
In yet another case, police blog Second Cityreported on a case in which felony counts of aggravated UUW and DUI were pled down to misdemeanors against the objections of a Chicago Police sergeant, who was the victim in the case.
FOP attorneys said the crime victims’ statute is still relatively new and may be used to challenge the legitimacy of convictions when prosecutors violate its mandate.
“While the crime victims and witness act is new, there is potential to invalidate these plea agreements when the state fails to follow the letter of the law. It places us in an area of the law that has not yet been challenged,” said FOP attorney Tim Grace.
Bob Bartlett, co-chair of the FOP’s Legal Defense, and Second Vice President Martin Preib will begin tracking incidents in which police are victims of violent crime. Detectives will be advised to notify the FOP every time they submit a victim rights form on behalf of a member.