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Suburban police chief wants regional task force to tackle carjackings: ‘It’s not only a Chicago problem’

Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said the suburbs could benefit from a regional task force that mimics the one started a year ago by the Chicago Police Department.

Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel
Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel
Riverside police

A suburban police chief wants to create a metro area task force to address a recent spike in carjackings that he says is “not only a Chicago problem.”

Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said the suburbs could benefit from a regional task force that mimics the one started a year ago by the Chicago Police Department.

A combined effort with Chicago and suburban police departments, the FBI, ATF, sheriff’s office, Cook County state’s attorney office and federal prosecutors “would go a long way in quickly shutting down these violent robberies,” Weitzel said.

“We’ve seen a disturbing number of carjackings the past few months in the area surrounding Riverside,” Weitzel said. “This crime is screaming for a regional response.”

Over one weekend in January, police in the west suburbs responded to at least three carjackings, including incidents where a man whipped with a replica gun in Elmhurst and a woman was shot in Aurora.

Weitzel said metro area could benefit even from a short-term task force, for maybe 90 days, or even from just sharing intelligence between agencies.

“We need to put in resources, even if it’s for a short period of time,” he said.

Last week, CPD Supt. David Brown said he was beefing up the city’s carjacking task force to address the surge in carjackings, which have more than doubled in the past year.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly planned to hold a meeting Friday with suburban mayors and police chiefs to talk about a regional solution.