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After staying silent about attempted carjacking of security detail, Cook County president promises ‘brief’ public notices in the future

Toni Preckwinkle was criticized this week for not saying anything publicly about a Forest Preserves officer firing at a carjacker outside her Hyde Park home on Sept. 27.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Sun-Times Media

After staying silent for a week after her security detail exchanged gunfire with a carjacker, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle promised Friday to notify the public whenever the detail is involved in an “act of violence.”

But Preckwinkle indicated she would still not have much to say publicly about such incidents, even apparently when an officer shoots someone.

“In the unfortunate event that my Executive Detail is faced with another act of violence, a brief public notification will be issued that continues to ensure the safety and security of my staff, myself and does not compromise any ongoing investigation,” she said in a statement.

Preckwinkle was criticized this week when it was reported by CWB Chicago that a Forest Preserves officer stationed outside her Hyde Park home had fired at someone who tried to steal his car the night of Sept. 27.

Neither Preckwinkle nor Chicago police had said anything about the incident, and it is still not known if the robber was shot. In her statement, Preckwinkle said it was up to the Chicago police to notify the public, not her.

“To protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation, we followed the standard procedure of allowing the lead law enforcement agency, CPD, to determine what information is shared and when,” she said.

The police department has not explained why the incident was not reported at the time on the department’s major incident log that is continually updated with major crimes in the city, including carjackings.

The incident happened around 8:30 p.m. near Preckwinkle’s home on the 5100 block of South Kimbark Avenue. A Forest Preserves police officer parked outside opened fire on a gunman who tried to take his car, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.

The officer then returned fire, the source said. Police were initially told the officer was off duty at the time, the source said.

But the Forest Preserves District, in a brief statement, said the officer is a member of Preckwinkle’s “executive protection detail” and was on duty. The statement said the officer “fired shots during an attempted carjacking” but did not say anything about the carjacker being armed or firing shots.

Chicago police released a statement around the same time, but its brief narrative did not identify the person involved as a police officer. And it said nothing about shots being fired by anyone.

Preckwinkle’s security detail — a three-person team who each earn more than $100,000 in salary — has been staffed by officers from the Forest Preserves Department of Law Enforcement since 2016. Before, it was staffed by officers from the county’s Department of Emergency Management.