CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson Sunday called for a change in state law that will strengthen enforcement against carjackers.
According to the Mayor’s Office, the proposed law would update current language in the Illinois’ possession of a stolen motor vehicle statute to empower victims who had their cars taken unlawfully.
In the proposed law, all victims would have to say is that they did not give the thief permission to drive.
“Our mission is clear: we want to prevent carjackings and cars from being stolen to strengthen community safety,” Emanuel said. “As a challenge facing communities across the state, we are seeking to use the laws better and more effectively to give victims a better chance to get justice in court.”
As of right now, victims are required to identify the thief, and that carjacker had to know the vehicle was stolen. If those elements are in doubt, law enforcement and prosecutors put the brakes on felony charges and instead tend to pursue less-serious misdemeanors.
During Sunday’s news conference, Emanuel and Johnson also announced that police vehicles will now be equipped with license plate reader technology in hopes they will be able to quickly and accurately identify and locate stolen vehicles.
“Public safety cannot be a responsibility left in the hands of law enforcement alone and we need to address the problems we face from every angle to create an effective culture of accountability for violent offenders,” Johnson said. “That is why I am proud to stand side by side with Mayor Emanuel, our lawmakers and community members to call for thoughtful legislation that will give carjacking victims an opportunity for justice in court.”
One lawmaker said the proposal is in its infancy, but added that he hopes it’s passed and signed into law by the summer.
Chicago has had more than 100 carjackings this year.