CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy are urging Gov. Pat Quinn to quickly sign legislation considered to be a powerful new tool for law enforcement agencies to target gangs in Illinois.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports state lawmakers have approved a new law called the Illinois Street Gang and Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizatons Law, better known as Street Gang RICO.
Alvarez said the law is similar to the federal RICO statute often used to bring down mob figures.
“Under our current state laws, we really are only able to prosecute gang crimes as isolated events, and essentially attack the problem one crime at a time,” Alvarez said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
She said current state law essentially shields gang leaders who don’t get their own hands dirty, by simply replacing gang members who are incarcerated for acts of violence.
She and McCarthy said the new state law would allow prosecutors to go after gang leadership for crimes their members commit.
“What we’re gonna be looking to put together is a pattern of conduct. … I think we do a good job of getting a guy who, you know, does the drive-by shooting,” she said. “We treat those cases as isolated incidents. But what this law will allow us to do is really attack that criminal enterprise.”
McCarthy said 75 to 80 percent of the shootings and murders in Chicago are gang-related.
“This law will prove an invaluable asset,” McCarthy said. “This RICO statute gives law enforcement the power to prosecute gang leaders for crimes they have ordered their members to commit.”
State Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago), a former police officer, sponsored the legislation.
“This bill is gonna have a tremendous effect, and this will be a great tool, not only four our state’s attorneys, but for the police departments to go after the gang leaders that are preying on our kids,” Munoz said. “Enough is enough. The guns are killing. The gangs are all over the streets of the city of Chicago, as well as the entire state.”
A spokeswoman for the governor’s office said Quinn “is committed to public safety, and will carefully review this legislation when he receives it.”