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Cook County Public Defender, Supt. Eddie Johnson Spar Over Gun Crimes Website

Amy Campanelli calls the website a "blatant intrusion" of defendant privacy, while Johnson calls it a tool to "provide a voice" for violence victims

Cook County's top public defender says a new Chicago Police Department website that provides adult gun-related criminal charges is a "blatant intrusion" of defendants' privacy and should be removed immediately.

The Chicago Tribune reports Amy Campanelli said Wednesday the website "is another example of police using a list of people who are presumed innocent as a red herring to distract from the real issue of the day: the CPD's failure to arrest the individuals who are shooters and who continue to wreak havoc in Chicago."

CPD's "Gun Offenders Dashboard" unveiled Monday will track felony gun cases through the county court system and whether those accused of gun offenses were able to post bail. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has long blamed Chicago's continuing violence on gun offenders who quickly bond out.

In a lengthy letter issued by the department on Thursday, Johnson said he agrees with the Public Defender's office that he is "troubled" by the information in the gun database, but he said that he is disturbed for different reasons. 

Gun violence is in the headlines nationally, but locally a surge in violence was seen, with several major shootings Sunday. NBC 5’s Trina Orlando has more on how the city is reacting. 

"I am deeply troubled because after 31 years of service as a Chicago police officer, I know personally and professionally the fear, suffering, and pain that gun offenders who carry firearms with impunity can bring to communities across Chicago," his letter read. "I know or have come into contact with too many people who are sick and tired of being afraid for the safety of their children when they go out to play, or to go for a walk to the store on a hot summer night, because they never know if they might come across the next gang beef, stray bullet, or robbery crew. 

"CPD's Gun Offender Dashboard helps to provide a voice for the victims of gun violence - who too often are overshadowed by those who seem to advocate for the perpetrators of gun violence," he added. 

You can read the full letter here: 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have also sparred over the handling of gun cases in front of Cook County judges. Preckwinkle, along with Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, has praised changes to the county's bond system, saying it's more equitable to those with lower incomes, but Lightfoot has backed Johnson's criticisms of the new system, saying that it allows too many gun offenders to be released from jail before their trials. 

In a letter addressed to Lightfoot earlier this year, Preckwinkle said she is seeking to discredit a "false narrative" that she says Johnson has created, which blames the release of gun offenders, including repeat offenders, as "the root cause for gun violence" in the city of Chicago. 

"It's a false narrative, and they know it, and it's infuriating," Preckwinkle told the Chicago Sun-Times. 

Lightfoot fired back in a July press conference, saying she received a "nice letter" from Preckwinkle, and demanded more information on which alleged gun offenders were being released on bond. 

"Who's getting arrested? What are the charges?" she asked. "What are the bond decisions being made?" 

The debate continues to rage as gun violence remains a hot-button topic in Chicago. Over the weekend, seven people were killed in shootings across the city, and over 50 were wounded, drawing attention from local officials and even from President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, who came under criticism for tweeting inaccurate information on the city's gun violence problem. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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