Ald. Anthony Napolitano thinks Cook County prosecutors are going easy on some crimes, so he wants the city to handle certain cases. | Sun-Times file
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Ald. Anthony Napolitano wants to take some crimes normally prosecuted by the state’s attorney’s office and divert them to city hearing officers.
Former Chicago police-officer-turned-alderman Anthony Napolitano has long accused State’s Attorney Kim Foxx of being soft on crime and functioning “more like a defense attorney” than a prosecutor of violent crime.
Now, Napolitano (41st) is so fed up with, as he puts it, the “lawlessness” on Chicago streets, he’s taking matters into his own hands.
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Napolitano plans to introduce what he calls the “Chicago Criminal Accountability Ordinance.”
It would take a series of crimes normally prosecuted by the state’s attorney’s office and divert them to city hearing officers who process administrative notices of violation.
The crimes range from “looting and mob actions,” vandalism, possession of etching materials, paint and other markers used for graffiti to unlawful possession of a firearm and firearms ammunition and offenses committed in “public transportation safety zones” or near schools, parks and playgrounds.
City hearing officers would be empowered to impose fines up to $30,000 for those offenses; all money would be earmarked for Chicago’s skyrocketing pension obligations. Violators could also be forced to serve up to six months in Cook County Jail.
Napolitano has served the city as both a police officer and a firefighter. His far Northwest Side ward is home to scores of Chicago Police officers who are constantly sending him videos and photos of the “lawlessness” on Chicago streets.
“Destroying property. Looting stores. … It’s happening every weekend. The wildings downtown right now where you have a mob of about 30 kids standing around beating people up on the corners, taking phones and purses in broad daylight,” Napolitano said.
“Every week, there’s another police vehicle or fire vehicle or city vehicle being destroyed by wildings…We’ve got four-wheelers and motorcycle on sidewalks on Michigan Avenue riding around. If you drive down the Kennedy Expressway, the entire city is covered in graffiti. I’ve never seen anything this bad before. … We’re a lawless city right now.”
Napolitano said the cops he represents are so demoralized by the “revolving door” at the state’s attorney’s office, they’re saying, “Why lock anybody up? They’re out on the street the next day or in a couple of hours.”
“If our state’s attorney is not going to stand up and be the defender of the people because she’s a defense attorney, we’re gonna take matters into our own hands. It’s not gonna go in front of her, where she just tosses everything, puts people on ankle monitors and puts everybody back on the street,” Napolitano said.
Foxx reacted angrily to the oft-repeated suggestion that she is soft on crime. So much so that she accused Napolitano of the fanning the flames of racial tension in Chicago.
“Phrases like ‘wilding’ are dog whistles that perpetuate racist attitudes and behavior in our criminal justice system. To be honest, I am not surprised by his language or motivation — as this is the same elected official who protested alongside the FOP and QAnon at my office nearly two years ago,” Foxx said in a prepared statement.
“My office has worked hard to establish trust and legitimacy with our Black and Brown communities. Right now, I will continue to use our resources to tackle violent crime and prioritize the safety of every Cook County resident.”
The Foxx statement continued: “As State’s Attorney I am focused on violent crime. Meanwhile, the alderman is focusing on low-level offenses. If the alderman was truly serious about addressing crime, he would follow the data from our most recent study. None of the policies he is recommending support this data.”
Accompanying Foxx’s statement was a fact sheet asserting that Foxx has “secured over 2,700 more convictions related to violent felony offenses than her predecessor,” Anita Alvarez, did “in the last three years of her tenure.”
“These violent and most serious offenses include cases of gun violence, homicide, sex crimes, aggravated battery, violence against police officers, robbery, domestic battery and kidnapping,” the fact sheets states.
“These cases represent 28 percent of the cases prosecuted by the Cook County State’s attorney’s office. The conviction rate on these cases has increased by 81 to 83 percent under the Foxx administration.”
It’s not the first time that Foxx has been accused of going too easy on criminals wreaking havoc on Chicago streets.
Last summer, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown accused Cook County prosecutors of being soft on looters who were arrested after the death of George Floyd in late May and early June, setting the stage for a second round of destruction in early August.
Foxx accused the mayor and Brown of “over-simplifying” the issue, adding, “The notion that people believe that they are somehow empowered because people were not prosecuted is simply not true.”