Crespo Introduces Legislation to Consolidate Policing of Cook County Forest Preserves
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- As a way to reduce ineffective and redundant government entities, state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, announced he is sponsoring legislation transferring the duties of the Cook County Forest Preserve District police to the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
"After the unfortunate incident last summer where a woman was harassed at a forest preserve, it became clear to me that the Cook County Sheriff's Office is better equipped and trained to deal with criminal activity or disturbances at forest preserves than a separate police force," Crespo said. "Transferring the duties of the forest preserve police to the sheriff will not only better protect people visiting forest preserves, but will save millions of taxpayer dollars."
Crespo is the sponsor of House Bill 2297, which terminates the Cook County Forest Preserve District's ability to maintain a separate police force and transfers law enforcement jurisdiction over forest preserves to the Cook County Sheriff's Office. For years, the Cook County Forest Preserve District police force has been a source of waste and ineffectiveness. In July 2018, the forest preserve police failed to protect a woman receiving harassment for wearing a shirt featuring the Puerto Rican flag. Previously, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation showed that the department spent nearly double the original budget of $1.2 million to acquire and develop land for new headquarters. In county budget hearings, Sheriff Tom Dart has said the sheriff's office could take over the forest preserve police with minimal staffing expansion and while saving taxpayers nearly $10 million.
"It is simply unacceptable that as families struggle with skyrocketing property taxes, Cook County government is spending millions on an ineffective and duplicative police force," Crespo said. "This is a good government reform that will save taxpayers millions of dollars, so I look forward to working with everyone on this issue."