Kim Foxx, newly elected as Cook County State’s Attorney in November, heads one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in the country, second only to Los Angeles. Her staff includes almost 900 attorneys and more than 1,500 employees. Foxx was sworn into office on Thursday, December 1, by the Chief Cook County Judge, the Honorable Timothy Evans.
The state’s attorney’s office is responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor and felony crimes committed in Cook County. On December 5, Foxx detailed her plans for revamping the group that reviews potentially wrongful convictions. She also unveiled plans that include the creation of a gun crimes unit.
Foxx is the first African American woman to hold one of the County’s most powerful offices.
She indicated that she wants to tackle violent crime by focusing on the most dangerous criminals. She intends to improve communications among the office’s bureaus, including traffic and child support, placing additional pressure on criminal offenders.
According to Foxx her office is also determining its authority to investigate police shootings and not wait for the Independent Police Review Authority to complete its investigation. “We’re looking at our authority to go in immediately like with other cases, collect evidence, and do a parallel investigation so that we get results in a timelier fashion” she said.
Foxx said that “waiting for second hand information to come after completion of an investigation by another agency, and then reviewing their work months later, I don’t think necessarily gives us the best results.”
Foxx defeated two term incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in a three-way primary last spring. Alvarez failed to overcome the public outrage generated by the release of a video showing a white police officer shooting Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager, 16 times.
Sworn in last Thursday, Foxx pledged a review of the unit that approves felony charges. She hopes to ensure her review will develop a unit that increases outcomes that are fair for all. “People should be held accountable for their actions, but the question becomes ‘what does justice look like in that case’?” she said.
Additionally, Foxx pledged training for prosecutors to help root out “implicit bias.” She said she will create a chief data officer position to help fill in gaps in knowledge on how the office is handling cases.
In office just a few weeks, Foxx has already formed her Transition Team, composed of legal minds, CEOs of service organizations, professors of law, and criminal justice advocates.
At the center of Kim Foxx’s vision for the State’s Attorney’s Office is a core belief that public safety is best achieved by an Office that operates “with integrity, discretion, accountability, collaboration, and fairness.”