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Tuesday, April 20, 2010 — A Cook County ban on possessing or manufacturing knives made to ensure they won’t be detected by metal detectors is set to be introduced by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, drawing support from Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.

Commissioners Edwin Reyes (D-Chicago) and Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) are sponsoring the measure, which will be introduced at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Cook County Board Room, 118 N. Clark St. The bill is expected to be referred to the law enforcement committee, chaired by Gainer, for further discussion.

“I’m thankful these commissioners are stepping forward to address the threat posed by these knives both in our courtrooms and on our streets,” Dart said. “I can think of no conceivable use for these knives that an ordinary knife couldn’t accomplish. They’re as dangerous as any other knife, except they aren’t picked up by metal detectors. That’s a frightening scenario.”

Last month, Cook County Sheriff’s deputies stopped Kevin Long, 48, as he attempted to enter the Daley Center armed with four steel hunting knives. A follow-up investigation by the sheriff and U.S. Marshals revealed 1,600 knives in his home, hundreds of which were made of hardened plastic, polymer resin or graphite and could inflict just as much injury as a steel-blade knife.

On April 14, Chicago Aldermen Edward M. Burke (14th) and Willie Cochran (20th) introduced a ban on the sale or possession of such undetectable knives in the city limits. That pending bill is now in committee.

The ban proposed by county commissioners today would expand that initiative county-wide. It would exempt law enforcement or military personnel, along with historical societies or museums. It would not apply to knives used to consume food, but specifically targets the types of knives seized in the raid on Long’s home.

As a result of his arrest at the Daley Center and the follow-up investigation, Long is charged with 51 counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Long served 15 months in prison for intimidating a witness in a civil court case and was released from prison in 2009. Because he was on parole at the time of his arrest, he is being held in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections while awaiting trial.

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