Cook County Sheriff’s Office police officers will enforce the county’s assault weapons ban in the Village of Northbrook, according to Village President Sandra Frum.
After listening to comments from seven people regarding the ban, also known as the Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban, Frum read a statement announcing that village staff has determined that Cook County officials will be responsible for enforcing the ban in Northbrook.
“Based on meetings that our village attorney and staff have had with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, we have been advised by the sheriff’s office that its police department will take primary responsibility for enforcement of the ordinance within Northbrook, and the Cook County State’s Attorney will be responsible for prosecution of the Cook County Blair Holt Act violations,” Frum read.
In April, the board was presented with options for regulating firearms, which included potentially enforcing the Cook County assault weapons ban in the village.
At that meeting, the board directed staff to draft ordinances banning the sale and possession of bump stocks, banning the sale and possession of assault weapons with magazines that fire more than 10 rounds, amending the village’s liquor code to prohibit concealed-carry firearms for businesses with liquor licenses and to look into how the village could enforce the Cook County assault weapons ban.
In May, the board approved two ordinances banning the sale and possession of bump stocks and similar accessories and banning concealed carry in establishments that serve liquor within the village. Northbrook Village Attorney Steve Elrod said at the May meeting that the Cook County assault weapons ban is applicable and enforceable in Northbrook because both are home rule municipalities.
“The laws of Cook County are fully applicable within a home rule unit located within Cook County unless the home rule municipality adopts an ordinance conflicting with the county ordinance thus opting out of the applicability of the county ordinance,” Elrod previously said.
The ban could be enforced by the village, Cook County or both, Elrod said. After researching the ban, Elrod said he learned that Cook County “has never enforced and is not enforcing” the assault weapons ban that is currently on the books.
Elrod said he met with Cook County State’s Attorney Office representatives to talk about Northbrook’s options for enforcing the ban, and he hoped to get some advice.
“They simply were not and have not been enforcing the ordinance, therefore there is no historical practice, no procedural guidance,” Elrod previously said. “So basically … we would be starting from scratch.”
In an interview Wednesday, Cook County Sheriff’s Office Chief Policy Officer Cara Smith said the office does enforce the ban by determining if a confiscated assault weapon is evidence in another case, and if it isn’t, it is destroyed.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office staff has offered to meet with the Northbrook Police Department to develop protocols for Northbrook police officers “to use to notify the sheriff if we discover or determine that a possible violation has occurred,” Frum said. The meeting will take place in “the next several weeks,” Frum said.
Smith confirmed that the sheriff’s office is in communication with Northbrook officials about enforcing the ban in the village.
“I don’t think it’s going to be very complicated. We’ll look at communication between the Northbrook Police Department and our office,” Smith said.
In an email Wednesday, a representative from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said the responsibilities of the office “include prosecution of County ordinance violations.”
The board did not discuss the ordinance after Frum read the statement. Frum said the board will not discuss the ban at upcoming meetings.
Before Frum read the statement, seven people addressed the board, with four people speaking against and three people speaking in favor of enforcing the ordinance in Northbrook.
Those who spoke against enforcing the ordinance said it will negatively impact law-abiding citizens and urged the board to focus on protecting schools instead.
“I want to protect our kids. Right now, anybody can walk into our schools,” said Northbrook resident Boris Pazi. “You really need to focus on that. Instead of focusing on the law-abiding citizens, let’s focus on trying to stop people who actually have intent to commit harm.”
Those who spoke in favor of enforcing the ordinance referenced the Stoneman Douglas High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings as examples of what the ordinance could help prevent.
“I think you know how the community feels about this issue. They are saying, unequivocally, to you ‘please do something,’ ” Northbrook resident JoJo Hebl said. “I implore you to do whatever you can and do it soon.”