The Cook County Sheriff’s Office says deputies have recovered more than 80 firearms so far this year while searching the homes of people under electronic surveillance.
There are about 2,300 people under electronic surveillance awaiting trial in Cook County, according to the sheriff’s office. All sign a contract stipulating that they will not have firearms, drugs or other contraband in their homes while participating in the program. And because they are technically still in custody, their homes are subject to warrantless searches called compliance checks.
“We’re looking for anything they shouldn’t have. Large quantities of narcotics, firearms, things of that nature,” the sergeant said. Carl Price explained while on his way to a compliance check at a home on Chicago’s West Side last month. He noted that everyone under electronic surveillance understands that MPs can legally search their residence at any time.
From the start of the year to June 1, the sheriff’s office said its police conducted 69 compliance checks, finding contraband for 60. A total of 84 firearms were found in 39 residences — more than half of the searches, authorities said.
“If this type of posting doesn’t make people realize that home monitoring isn’t the right type of confinement for certain types of people, I don’t know what will,” the county sheriff said. Cook, Tom Dart, pointing to the collection of weapons recovered in searches so far this year.
According to the sheriff’s office, of the 39 people arrested after weapons were found in their homes, 27 were originally awaiting trial for electronic surveillance on weapons-related charges.
“So already charged with a crime of violence,” Dart said. “We go into houses and we go out with weapons like this.”
The sheriff’s office complains that at least part of the reason is a new law giving inmates two days of free movement where they are unsupervised even if they still wear an electronic bracelet.
“They have access to places where they probably couldn’t go before the essential move, to get things they shouldn’t have,” Price said.
In fact, 40 people have been charged with crimes on the free movement days since the policy took effect earlier this year, and two have been shot and killed.
But for anyone under electronic surveillance, having firearms is strictly prohibited – although sheriff’s teams carrying out these checks continue to find firearms.
Last month, officers visited the home Jonathon Soto, 18, shared with his mother, both of whom were under electronic surveillance.
Body camera video shows officers searching every wardrobe, closet and under every bed. Footage shows an officer pulling a bag of ammunition from a closet and, in another room, a handgun from under the oven.
“We found a Glock 19 pistol attached to a device called a switch that makes the firearm fire fully automatic,” Price explained after the search.
Both mother and son were arrested, although Soto insisted on his innocence, proclaiming upon arrest, “I’m not going to get in trouble for something I didn’t do.”
Soto was under electronic surveillance for a firearms charge and now faces a new charge of unlawful use of a weapon. He is due to appear in court next week. The sheriff’s office said the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not approve new charges against Soto’s mother as part of the compliance check, although the two were returned to jail. of Cook County.
These visits aren’t random – Sheriff’s Police say they only check on people they have reason to believe aren’t following the rules.
Dart has long argued that Cook County judges are releasing people under electronic surveillance who shouldn’t be in the program — and that his office is left with an unmanageable task. He argues that the only reason his officers haven’t found more guns is that they don’t have the manpower to do more searches.
“I have no doubt that if we had double the number of people on the street, we would find double the guns,” Dart said, reiterating, “I have no doubt. No doubt.”