June 12th, 2018 3:24 PM
By MICHAEL ROMAIN and TIMOTHY INKLEBARGER
In an effort to address the recent uptick in carjackings across the city and suburbs, the Cook County Sheriff's Office has created a database that it hopes will help law enforcement agencies investigate and solve the crimes.
Back in April, the sheriff's office sent letters to Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley and Forest Park Police Chief Tom Aftanas, requesting the police department's participation in the new database.
Oak Park police said they had not yet received the letter, and River Forest Police Chief James O'Shea did not return calls requesting an interview.
Brad Curry, the chief operating officer for the Cook County Sheriff, explained in the letter that the database "will contain the name, personal information of the offender (if available), social media information, the offense, criminal charge, criminal history and any other information deemed critical."
Curry stated that the sheriff's office hopes that local police departments will "notify our office as soon as you have completed our reports, or have suspect information of a carjacking."
He added that the office has extended the invitation "to all law enforcement agencies in Cook County and collar counties to share this information in an effort to centralize the data as a source of reference."
Local departments may report their carjacking data to a communications center in the sheriff's office, Curry said.
"By having this information available in one central location it will aid in identifying trends and patterns in order to help combat this growing issue," Curry said. "Your agency can receive this data as often as you would like."
Aftanas noted that he received the letter from the county on April 18, while Maywood police received theirs on April 24.
"I think it is a very good idea because most of the [carjacking] offenders are not first-time offenders," Aftanas said.
He said there have been four carjackings in Forest Park in 2018, keeping the village on pace with 2017's total of nine carjackings. Aftanas said police have made arrests in three of the four carjackings this year.
Aftanas said that the Cook County Sheriff's Department has increased its presence in the village this year at the request of Forest Park police.
"It started in Oak Park, but we reached out to sheriff and asked to cross over Harlem and have more of a presence," Aftanas said.
Talley also confirmed that his department has agreed to participate in the database. Data on carjacking incidents this year in Maywood was not immediately available.
According to the Maywood Police Department's annual report, presented in January, the number of motor vehicle thefts in the village held steady from 2015 to 2017. There were 98, 89 and 93 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. There was no data available in the report explicitly referencing carjackings.
The decision by the sheriff's office to create a database is the latest in a string of measures implemented by local governments and police agencies to address carjackings.
In Chicago, where nearly 1,000 carjackings took place in 2017 — the most in the city in roughly a decade, according to police — city law enforcement officials partnered with federal authorities to create a task force on carjackings in February.
And state lawmakers have proposed a series of bills, some of them controversial, designed to confront the rise in carjackings, which law enforcement authorities says is driven by young offenders.