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County’s Warrant Squad Seeks More Than 40,000 Fugitives

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A Cook County unit that seeks fugitives assembles. (CBS)

A Cook County unit that seeks fugitives assembles. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — They’re wanted — not just hundreds, but tens of thousands of fugitives.

That’s just in Cook County. CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman went out with a unit that works to find the people who don’t want to get caught.

In a West Side apartment building, you could hear Cook County Sheriff’s Police shouting, “Let me see your hands!”

After tense moments, they got their fugitive, a gang member with a gun history.

A relative said she didn’t know where she was, but was in there.

“He was in the back of the closet … I could see his feet,” Investigator Kevin Badon said.

Family members didn’t like it one bit. There was yelling and screaming.

“Most of the time the families in these houses are more of an issue than the actual fugitive,” Badon said.

“We never know what we’ll encounter,” Sgt. David Roman added.

That’s reality for the Central Warrant Unit, day in and day out. And the work keeps coming. You could put a fugitive in each and every one of the seats at Wrigley Field.

That’s how many fugitive warrants there are in Cook County. It’s more than 40,000.

While a large percentage are probation violations, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said there are more serious offenders, too.

“We have a large group, too, that are warrants for homicides, sex assaults and very serious offenses,” he said. “It’s disturbing whenever you have someone who is running from the law.”

Dart says they’re getting tougher on going after the really bad guys. Lt. Ted Stajura says there’s room at the jail for them.

“As we always say, we always leave the light on for you,” said Stajura.

A lot of investigative work goes into knowing the fugitives’ habits so officers don’t come back empty-handed. They don’t get everybody they go after, but when CBS 2 went along with them Thursday morning, they got three out of four.

Typical number: about 35 in a week.

There is a Cook County fugitive hotline for anyone with information on someone on the run. That number is (708) 865-4902.

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