FILE - Kim Foxx, Illinois, 2019

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

I think I speak for almost everyone when I say I was shocked and horrified at the evil and horrific crimes perpetrated in both Buffalo and Uvalde the last few weeks. But how is it, I wonder, that we can stand united against such an atrocity, yet so many politicians ignore the ongoing violence in cities like Chicago.

In a tragic event the other week locally, a teenager was senselessly shot dead, and Chicago Police say it was another teenager who pulled the trigger. It’s heartbreaking and gut-wrenching anytime someone takes a life, but it’s somehow worse when the victim and perpetrator are both kids. The victim lost his life, but the kid who pulled the trigger lost his future. Why is violence so pervasive in the City of Chicago that even kids are taking each other’s lives? It’s a question I wish I could answer.

While I can’t tell you why every violent act occurs, I can tell you what exacerbates the situation. We have a Cook County State’s Attorney who, time and again, lets hardened criminals walk free in the name of social justice. When a violent offender gets off the hook, they feel invincible. You know who also sees when Kim Foxx lets violent offenders walk free? Kids. 

As a father, I can tell you, kids are far more observant than we give them credit for. Say a bad word around your kid one time and you’ve just permanently introduced a new word into their vocabulary. Impressionable minds are sponges for new information. 

For kids who grow up with only one parent or grandparent to set an example often look to other role models. When Kim Foxx lets violent offenders walk, she creates heroes for wayward kids. I’m not saying Kim Foxx is responsible for every act of senseless violence in Cook County, but I can say her efforts have been objectively counterproductive to reducing violent crime in Cook County. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has shown kids that she doesn’t take crime seriously – so why should they?

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can report that we’ve done more than make a small dent in crime in Orland Park. Even though most of our village lies within Cook County, we’ve worked overtime to make it nearly impossible for Kim Foxx to drop the ball. When she somehow manages to still drop the ball, we’ve made a habit of going around her and straight to federal agencies. In fact, our community has received praise from federal agencies for our relentless efforts to curb crime. PolitiFact and the Chicago Sun-Times confirm – we cut crime in Orland Park to its lowest rate in 27 years.

In Orland Park, we sent a simple message to criminals: “Orland Park is not the community where you can commit a crime and get away with it.” Kim Foxx may incentivize crime, but in Orland Park we make sure criminal cases are solved and prosecuted. 

By the way – it’s not just through hard-nosed policing that we were able to make progress. We doubled down on our efforts to reduce recidivism and we secured the funds to hire more mental health professionals. And we did this without “defunding the police.” Just as I’m proud to say we cut crime, I’m equally proud that Orland Park has also decreased committals by over 30% – and saved lives in the process. Plus, we invest heavily in investigations so we produce so much evidence the state’s attorney has no choice but to prosecute criminals.

Orland Park has clearly found some solutions that work and could be used elsewhere. This work is personal for me. When I served in the Air Force, including three tours in Iraq, I didn’t put my life on the line to defend our country so families would feel unsafe here at home. That’s why we need a leader in Congress who knows what it takes to reduce crime to the lowest level in 27 years and has a proven track record of keeping families safe.

Right off the bat, let’s start by agreeing that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s approach to crime has failed miserably. From there, let's discuss the commonsense solutions that will lead to substantial reductions in crime throughout the community and put people over politics. Families deserve to feel safe, and kids deserve to have a future.

Keith Pekau is the mayor of Orland Park