Newly elected Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said on Monday that she plans to be more engaged in the early stages of investigations dealing with police-involved shootings instead of waiting until the Independent Police Review Authority complete its reports.
“I certainly believe that we should be out there earlier in order to make sure that the investigations are appropriate. . . . We shouldn’t be waiting in response so far down the line as we have been,” Foxx told the Sun-Times in a brief interview at her downtown office.
“Again, not every police involved-shooting is unjustified. But certainly looking at the evidence after a long gap in time in investigations that you have not taken part [in], I think, handicaps our ability to look at these cases in an efficient and effective way.”
Foxx, who beat out incumbent Anita Alvarez amidst criticism in the way she handled Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, has also vowed more accountability during her tenure by hiring ethics training and chief diversity officers.
The top prosecutor also hopes to allow for more transparency by letting the public access the office’s case management database. That information will also include the demographics of those going in the court system, Foxx said.
“That should not be a luxury. That should be a baseline,” she said of the proposal that was included in a 16-page transition brochure she released Monday.
The job of a public prosecutor is “public safety and justice,” Foxx said, and the best way to do that is to be respectful to the public she will be serving.
“People who live in crime-ravaged neighborhoods want good law enforcement. People aren’t like ‘We don’t want law enforcement.’ They don’t want bad law enforcement.”
Foxx also said she “can’t wait to start the conversation” on bail bond reform since she said too many people are languishing in Cook County Jail because they simply cannot post bond.
“I think the momentum and the conversation around this makes me optimistic that this is a near-future goal for the system as a whole,” she said of the possibility of eliminating the cash-bond system she said is unfair to the poor.
Foxx said she’s not wagering on Springfield to change the Illinois bail statute anytime soon.
“I think if public safety stakeholders can work together to come up with something — chief judge, public defender, Sheriff [Tom] Dart — I think I’m more optimistic about that. It seems like this is something that people are coalescing around, and I think it’s a near-term goal. I think that might be a 2017 goal.”
Foxx also said she hopes to keep more nonviolent drug offenders from being placed behind bars. She said she will start by assessing current diversion programs and will continue building on relationships with drug-treatment providers.
When asked about marijuana-related cases, Foxx said, “The fact that we are still prosecuting some of these cases makes me wonder again where our priorities are in a city like Chicago that has 700 homicides and the clearance rate is so low. Our resources should be dealing with violent crimes.”