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Downtown Naperville has taken on a Rush Street type of environment according to one member of the Naperville Downtown Liquor Subcommittee. Increased patronage has brought out security concerns. The issue of overserving also as been raised.
Do you see a change in the atmosphere downtown at night? Is it troubling? Do you patronize downtown Naperville at night? Or do you get out of Dodge before it gets dark?

Illinois law allows police to seize vehicles used in the commission of a crime, which on the surface may seem like a great way to fight crime. And while it can serve this purpose, some are questioning the way the law is enforced.

Police can seize any car used in the commission of crimes ranging from murder to driving on a suspended license.

Some of the complaints are that the law does not mandate a speedy hearing in the case, so the owner could be without their vehicle for months. Also, the burden of proof is on the vehicle's owner, not the state. Many of the cases end in a default judgment in the state's favor because the vehicle owners cannot afford a lawyer. And vehicles can be seized before the case ever comes to trial, meaning police keep the car even if the defendant is later found not guilty or charges are dropped. The vehicle can be seized regardless of if the owner of the car is the one charged with the crime. Between 2007 and 2009, the city of Naperville made more than $300,000 on the sale of seized vehicles.

Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti believes there may be a problem with the law, but DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett has no qualms. DuPage County has seized about 3,000 vehicles since 2006. In DuPage, Birkett amended the local laws to provide for a probable cause-type hearing.

Do you think this law is fair? Is it an effective crime fighting technique, or a way for municipalities to make money? Is it appropriate to take someone's vehicle for what could in some cases be a relatively minor crime?

Read the full article here: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/2227002,3_1_EL03_04SEIZE_S1-100503.article

On Tuesday near San Diego, police found what is believed to be the body of 17-year-old Chelsea King, a former Naperville resident. King went jogging on Thursday in a rugged area near San Diego and never returned.

A 30-year-old registered sex offender named John Albert Gardner III has been arrested in the case. Gardner served five years in prison for an attack on a 13-year-old girl and is suspected in the disappearance of a 14-year-old and in the unsuccessful attack on another woman.

Gardner could have been eligible for a sentence of up to 11 years in the previous case but was only sentenced to five. Being on the sex offender list means police knew where to find him, but it did not restrict his actions. While Gardner has not yet been charged, he is the main suspect.

Is there anything else we can do to keep an eye on convicted sex offenders to keep these kinds of tragedies from happening?

Under a controversial state program aimed at saving money, the state released more than 1,700 prisoners recently who had only completed small portions of their sentences.

While the program was supposed to only apply to nonviolent offenders convicted of minor crimes, an Aurora street gang member convicted of murder conspiracy and 20 other criminals from throughout Illinois with murder or attempted murder in their backgrounds were released. Six were convicted of murder, five of second-degree murder, one of manslaughter, one of murder conspiracy and seven of attempted murder.

Under the rules of the program, previous offenses could not be considered, only the offense the person was currently serving time for, accounting for the releases.

Quinn has said the program was a "mistake." What do you think?

On Wednesday, a DuPage County jury sentenced Brian Dugan to death for the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville, who he abducted, raped and murdered in 1983. Dugan also murdered two other women, along with committing other rapes and crimes. There doesn't seem to be any question of Dugan's guilt, especially since he confessed.

But enforcement of the death penalty has been suspended in Illinois since the end of Gov. George Ryan's term, when a seemingly endless string of exonerations of Death Row convicts threw the state's legal system in doubt. Ryan believed there was too high of a chance of a wrongly convicted person being executed and suspended the penalty until things improved.

Convicts serving long sentences are still being exonerated in Illinois, however, So the question is, should the state bring back enforcement of the death penalty? What needs to be done to ensure there are no more cases like that of Rolando Cruz, who was convicted of Jeanine Nicarico's murder and sentenced to death long before Dugan was a suspect? Or is the system too flawed to risk executing an innocent person?

A recent study examined the ticketing records in cities throughout the Chicago area and calculated the number of traffic stops that result in tickets. Some gave tickets in 100 percent of stops, while others gave tickets in far less than 50 percent. Naperville was one of the higher ranked cities at 72 percent. Police spokesmen from many of the towns said the choice of whether to ticket is up to the officer and depends on the severity of the offense and whether the officer feels education or punishment is the more appropriate direction to take. Here is a link to the article:

Do you think the police in Naperville are fair?

On Tuesday, Brian Dugan pleaded guilty to the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville in 1983. Dugan would have pleaded guilty years ago except that he wanted to avoid the death penalty, which State's Attorney Joe Birkett insisted on seeking. With this guilty plea, Dugan requested a jury to determine if he should face the death penalty or life in prison, which he is already serving for two other murders.

A life sentence on top of existing life sentences wouldn't really add punishment for Dugan, but Illinois has suspended the death penalty and may never reinstate it. So was it worth it for Birkett to hold out this long seeking a punishment that may never be administered? Do you think Dugan deserves a death sentence?

In his 14 years as Naperville's mayor and liquor commissioner, George Pradel has never revoked a local bar or restaurant's liquor license.
Which begs the questions: is that because city officials and police tend to go easy on nightclub and restaurant owners because of the copious tax revenue their businesses generate? Or is it because the downtown nightlife district -- despite its rowdy reputation in some quarters -- is comparatively trouble-free?
Articles from the Naperville Sun library and anecdotal evidence suggest that out of the thousands of people visiting the downtown area on a typical Friday or Saturday, 1 percent or fewer are arrested for assault, battery, property damage or other crimes related to alcohol consumption there.
Still, the city's 32 liquor-licensed establishments and their employees can be held legally liable for indulging their patrons by "over-serving" them and, in some instances, conjuring their darker sides.
"We're constantly telling them we don't want them to over-serve," Pradel said of local tavern and restaurant operators. "Our police check all the time to see that people aren't being over-served. The owners could be in deep trouble" for that if, for example, a patron should become involved in a drunken-driving crash, he said.
"I think our city is very fortunate that we have such responsible owners of the bars and restaurants that serve liquor," Pradel said. "I know it's hard times, but we really put the clamp on people, and if they're over-serving, we're going to be taking them to court."
What do you think? Do you think Naperville bartenders to a good job at monitoring patrons' alcohol intake? Do you think that downtown Naperville's nightlife promotes fun, safe socializing - or is it becoming an area that draws more debauchery out of people than other areas?
And furthermore - do you think bartenders should be held liable if a patron drinks too much - or should that be something that simply falls under the category of "personal responsibility?"
Voice your thoughts - they might be published in The Sun this week!

Frequent and longtime guests and participants of this forum will recall discussion about how Naperville deploys its police force, and debate about whether the city needs such a presence of officers downtown.

We're about to find out. To help plug an $11 million shortfall, Naperville is looking at reducing its workforce by 40 positions citywide. To show how deep the cuts would go -- and just how serious this economic situation is -- nine positions would be eliminated from the police department, including the third downtown beat officer, its second crime prevention officer and its domestic violence investigator.

Do you think this forum played any role at all in the proposed cuts city officials are considering? Are you surprised by the cuts, or are they what you expected? (We've known for some time a hiring freeze was in place.) How well do you think city officials listen to input from constituents? How concerned are you about staffing cuts affecting public safety operations--in the police and fire departments?

Technology is great at improving convenience. And kids seem to pick up the tricks a lot quicker than adults.

But as a story in Sunday's Sun details, police and parents are increasing concerned that it's often difficult to trace messages and pictures send via cell phones. There's even a legislative push on to require wireless companies to offer parents the ability to retrieve messages from cell phones used by their minor children.

It's scary enough worrying about kids doing inappropriate things on the Internet, but at least computer communications can be tracked. Not so with cell phones, we're learning. Your kids could be taking, sending and receiving improper photos with friends and even strangers, and once they're deleted from the device they could be gone for good.

Sexual predators know this, and police worry that criminals who might meet your kids on the Internet are steering them to cell phones because it's harder to track them down.

How confident are you that your kids aren't doing anything inappropriate with their cell phones or computers? What do you think about the difficulty in tracking cell phone communications? Are you more concerned about tracking criminal conduct, or the potential compromises in user privacy if laws required wireless companies to provide the ability to track transmissions?

Naperville Potluck

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