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SHERIFF’S POLICE CONDUCT WARRANT SWEEP AS PART OF FULL TAKEOVER OF POLICE DUTIES IN FORD HEIGHTS

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Monday, April 21, 2008 — More than 35 people have been arrested as of Sunday evening during an ongoing fugitive warrants sweep in Ford Heights, part of a multi-pronged plan by Cook County Sheriff’s Police to providing 24-hour, daily policing services to the far south suburban town, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced.

The sweep, which began early Sunday morning and will continue through Tuesday, targeted two types of offenders associated with Ford Heights and who were wanted on outstanding arrest warrants: those who live in the village and those who live elsewhere, but conduct their criminal business in Ford Heights. In all, 38 people have been taken into custody so far.

Offenders were picked up on arrest warrants ranging from traffic offenses to domestic violence and drug possession. Additionally during the sweep, officers seized a stun gun, 83 grams of marijuana and a loaded Ruger 9 mm gun, found in a Cook County Housing Authority subsidized home.

“We are fully committed to providing the community of Ford Heights with the police duties necessary to keep them safe and secure,” Sheriff Dart said. “We are here to serve and protect, so let this warrant sweep be a warning to all criminals in Ford Heights: our presence will be felt.”

The Sheriff’s Police assumed patrol responsibilities of all three Ford Heights police shifts several weeks ago due to that Department’s financial difficulties and manpower shortages. Since March, 2006, Sheriff’s Police have been staffing the Ford Heights Police Department’s afternoon and overnight shifts. Cost of funding those shifts for more than two years and the recent addition of the day shift have been borne entirely by Cook County and has topped more than $1.5 million to date. Sheriff’s officials are working with state and federal officials in an attempt to find alternate funding measures.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office will be focusing its efforts and resources in a variety of ways throughout the spring and summer to help Ford Heights. Beginning today, members of the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP) will be utilized to pick up trash and conduct other beautifying efforts throughout the community while the Sheriff’s Graffiti Removal Program will be dispatched as needed.

“These efforts by our office are being made as part of our broken window approach to crime,” Sheriff Dart said. “Crime usually starts small in a community and grows over time. By fixing the small problems now, such as the broken window, we are aiming to prevent bigger problems, and more serious crimes later.”

Since Sheriff’s Police took over two patrol shifts in 2006, crime in Ford Heights has dropped 33 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Sheriff Dart thanked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General who were conducting checks of public housing; the Illinois Attorney General’s Office checking on the status of local sex offenders; the Illinois Department of Corrections, who did parole checks; and the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, participating in the warrant sweep, for their efforts and assistance during this operation.

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