/Legalize pot? No way, says leader of state police chief association

Legalize pot? No way, says leader of state police chief association

The suburban police chief recently elected president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police says he’s making it a top priority to fight the legalization of recreational marijuana use here.

“It is a disastrous move,” Chief Steven Stelter said, ticking off more than a half-dozen reasons the association opposes the proposed Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

Among them: more fatal crashes and more violent crime in states that have legalized it.

Steven Stelter

Steven Stelter

Stelter, chief of the Westchester Police Department, took the association’s reins April 26. He’s spent more than four decades in suburban law enforcement, including 28 years with the DuPage County sheriff’s office, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a plan last week that would legalize recreational use for those 21 and older. If passed, Illinois would become the 10th state to legalize.

But several provisions of the proposal have raised red flags for Stelter and others in law enforcement — from a provision allowing people to grow up to five marijuana plants at home to the lack of measures preventing a user from purchasing large amounts by visiting multiple dispensaries.

“I’m sure everybody that wants to grow is going to stick to five plants,” he said with more than a hint of sarcasm.

The chiefs association also disputes the belief that legalization will reduce the black market for the drug, and it says overseas drug cartels have set up grow operations in rental or foreclosed houses in states where marijuana is legal.

“It is destroying our children in legal states,” Stelter said, referring to reports that use by seventh- and eighth-graders increased in those places, and there has been an increase in calls to poison-control centers about children who ingested marijuana-laced edibles.

Politicians in Illinois are turning a blind eye to these concerns, he said.

“They don’t even want to hear it.”

Where it stands

The 532-page legalization plan, legislatively known as Senate Bill 7, is before the state Senate’s Executive Committee. There are less than 20 days of legislative debate on the calendar before the General Assembly adjourns for the session, so proponents need to move quickly.

That won’t be easy, however, as some Democrats in the state House, including Speaker Mike Madigan and Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines, have raised concerns with some parts of the bill and say the plan is by no means a slam dunk.

Elburn's police chief said officers recently had to help a distracted driver who had plunged into a detention pond.

Elburn’s police chief said officers recently had to help a distracted driver who had plunged into a detention pond.
– Getty images


Can’t make this up

Elburn Police Chief Nicholas Sikora reported Monday that some of his officers had to be pulled off a distracted-driving enforcement campaign several weeks ago to help a motorist whose car went off the road and into a detention pond.

What caused the accident? The driver admitted she had been texting while driving, Sikora said.

Adam R. Gornowich

Adam R. Gornowich


Don’t hold it against him

Just because Adam R. Gornowich admitted to embezzling more than $350,000 from his employer doesn’t mean you should hold it against him.

Those were, in essence, the instructions a state appeals court gave a Kane County judge this week when it threw out the eight-year prison term Gornowich received in 2016 and ordered a new sentencing hearing.

Gornowich, 36, of St. Charles, faced four to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony theft in 2016. The charge stemmed from allegations he used his company’s funds to make about $353,000 in unauthorized purchases for himself between June 2011 and December 2014.

In sentencing Gornowich to eight years in prison, Kane County Judge James Hallock said he weighed the fact Gornowich received compensation from his crimes.

But that’s an inherent factor in the crime of theft, the appellate court ruled, and as a result can’t be used against him at sentencing.

In case you were worried the appellate justices are suggesting Hallock take it easy on Gornowich, think again.

“There is little question that the sheer scope of defendant’s conduct is appalling and justified a severe sentence,” Justice Ann B. Jorgensen wrote in the decision.

A new sentencing date has not been scheduled.

Tough job getting tougher

Being a law enforcement officer in Illinois is getting tougher, according to a new survey from the personal finance website WalletHub.

According to the site, Illinois now ranks as the 11th-best state for police officers, down from seventh last year.

One big reason: pay. After ranking first in the nation in median income (adjusted for inflation) in 2017, the compensation for Illinois cops slipped to third best last year.

And after seeing the seventh-most growth in income in 2016 and 2017, pay growth ranked just 28th last year.

To see the full report, visit wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-be-a-cop/34669/.

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