Livestreaming bond court saves vital police resources

Police departments spend enormous amounts of overtime and incur manpower and transportation issues when officers have to appear in person, a former suburban police chief writes.

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The George N Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 2650 S California Ave in Little Village, Monday, May 9, 2022. Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 2650 S. California Ave.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Recently, Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans issued a directive that the YouTube link, activated during the pandemic for livestreaming bond court at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California, will no longer be available. He cited abuses within the system as the reason for ending the livestream.

Online discussions, in general, are susceptible to “zoom bombing” by outsiders who log on to ruin the meeting. Bond court livestreams are no exception, but it is the responsibility of the court system to put protections in place. While this and other mishaps have arisen on occasion, such incidents alone seem insufficient for canceling bond court livestreams altogether.

Pre-pandemic, while I was still police chief in Riverside, I and other chiefs whose officers’ court cases were held at the Maywood Courthouse asked Evans and the then-presiding judge in the 4th Municipal District to allow video bond court. We reasoned that we were spending enormous amounts of overtime and incurring manpower and transportation issues for our officers to appear in person, usually to simply jot down the bail amount and to note the defendant’s next court appearance. Our request was denied.

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Many west suburban police departments, as well as Chicago’s, compete to get the earliest bond hearings possible. Suburban officers usually leave between 4 and 4:30 a.m. to transport detainees before bond court is scheduled to begin, although it’s not uncommon for judges to take the bench late. The arresting officer either stays until then, or until another officer comes to take over. Overtime quickly accumulates. Small suburban police departments may have to take officers off the streets to cover bond hearings, which means fewer available to answer calls.

Many states and municipalities across the country allow video bond hearings, and in some cases, hold bond hearings at night to avoid court backups. It would behoove Cook County to consider doing the same.

Evans and other public leaders have repeatedly claimed to support open and transparent courts. To cite missteps during bond court livestreams, with vague substantiation, and then discontinue video access to court proceedings — particularly for police officers who otherwise are taken off the streets for hours — seems anything but open and transparent. Our communities and public servants clearly benefit from the practice.

Tom Weitzel, former Riverside police chief

Trump’s indictment is not about politics

Donald Trump’s recent indictment has not been framed properly by many people. It is not a matter of Democrats vs. Republicans, but of right vs. wrong.

This is a country of laws — and many of us, regardless of party, want our leaders (and all of our citizens) to be law-abiding. Trump has allegedly crossed the line egregiously, according to the indictments.

We don’t want someone who has been charged with criminal behavior — especially trying to overturn a presidential election — to lead the country. To be clear, Trump was indicted not because he is a Republican, but because he may have broken the law.

To compare Trump’s alleged malfeasance to Hunter Biden’s is laughable. Biden’s alleged crimes are his own personal issues. He was not president; he did not seek to stay in power when he lost an election; and his mistakes only affect him personally. The power to annihilate the world should be in the hands of a moral human being, not someone like Trump.

Carol Kraines, Deerfield

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