Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cook County State's Attorney grants power to Town of Cicero to pursue civil litigation against streets gangs/members in new pilot program

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PRESS RELEASE


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         Ray Hanania
Tuesday Sept. 13, 2011                                                                    708-656-3600 ext 855

Cook County State's Attorney grants power to Town of Cicero to pursue civil litigation against streets gangs/members in new pilot program

Cicero -- Town President Larry Dominick and the Town of Cicero Board Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cook County State's Attorney’s Office which will allow Cicero to file civil lawsuits against gangs and gang members who engage in criminal activities in the community under a new pilot program.

The first of its kind in Cook County, the agreement allows Cicero to recover damages for losses and other harm caused by street gangs and their members and to go after their assets. The State’s Attorney’s Office will designate a Cicero town attorney with the authority to bring civil actions against gang members as authorized under the Illinois  Street Gang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act, a civil state statute. 

The Town of Cicero has made great strides in confronting and reducing street gangs and their members and crime is at an all time low. But Town of Cicero officials believe it is important to step up the pressure. This authority will give the Town of Cicero another tool to use to go after gang members in Cicero.

"This agreement will add muscle to our on-going campaign to confront street gangs and their members, to hold them responsible for their actions and to play a direct role in bringing civil litigation against these street gang criminals," said Town President Larry Dominick.

"We are grateful to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski for working with us so that we might join in the broader fight against Streets Gangs and street gang members."

Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski said that the initiative is an example of the County Board reaching out and working more closely on issues with communities in the Chicago Suburbs.

"This is an example of the new initiative of the Cook County Board which is working together for the benefit of its citizens and especially to place a priority on the news of the county's suburban communities which have been overlooked in the past," Tobolski said.

“I am happy to have worked with both State’s Attorney Alvarez and President Dominick to come up with this pilot program- the first of its kind in Cook County.  It gives one more tool to our law enforcement officials in which to fight gangs, and get them off our streets.”

Under the MOU, the Town of Cicero's designated attorney must notify the Cook County State's Attorney of the town's intention to pursue civil litigation against a street gang or street gang member.  The State’s Attorney’s Office will review the request and then make a determination if the town may pursue with civil action such as injunctive relief, damages, costs and fees. 

Assistant States Attorney Donald J. Pechous, deputy chief of the Civil Actions Bureau, told the Cicero board that Ms. Alvarez is committed to assisting suburban communities in fighting and confronting street gangs and their members.

"When there is a bully, you have to push back. You can't allow a bully to push you. That's what this agreement will do, allow the Town of Cicero to push back against street gangs," said Pechous. He said that the agreement allows Cicero to go after property belonging to street gangs.

President Dominick said Cicero will continue to aggressively pursue street gangs utilizing the Town of Cicero's police resources and the new agreement.

"We are confident that this and the many steps we have taken in Cicero will make a difference for our community in defending the rights of our citizens," Dominick said.

The resolution was approved by the Town of Cicero Board at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday Sept. 13.

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