LaSalle Co. (ECWd) –
If you’re not familiar with the illegal activities LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne has involved himself in I suggest you review those articles found at this link. Below is a letter to the editor that apparently the local paper would not print. We are pleased to provide the letter below, submitted by attorney Julie Ajster.
How did LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne create his own police force?
Many have heard of LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne’s S.A.F.E. unit but few know or understand S.A.F.F.E.? As an attorney in LaSalle County for over 13 years, I had not heard of S.A.F.E. until April 2015. Since then, I have spent hundreds of hours gathering thousands of S.A.F.E. documents. I am sharing what I have learned about S.A.F.E with you.
In 2011, Towne created his own police force. He called it, “State’s Attorney Felony Enforcement” Unit or S.A.F.E. It was a completely independent and a one of a kind law enforcement unit. S.A.F.E. was not a task force or a special unit of the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Department or any other law enforcement agency in LaSalle County.
When I tell people that the State’s Attorney of LaSalle County created his own police, they laugh until they realize I am serious. Then they ask, “How can a State’s Attorney have his own police force?” I answer, “He can’t but he did.”
If State’s Attorneys can’t have their own police force, how did Towne? Illinois statute, 55 ILCS 5/3-9005(b), allows a State’s Attorney to appoint a “special investigator” to “serve subpoenas, summonses, make return of process, and conduct investigations which assist the State’s Attorney in the performance of his (her) duties.”
Towne interpreted this statute differently than any other State’s Attorney in the history of Illinois. Towne interpreted the statute to say he could have his own police force and he used this statute as the authority to create S.A.F.E.
Towne’s S.A.F.E. officers were labeled “special investigators” but they were not. According to S.A.F.E.’s policies and procedures, the duties of Towne’s “special investigators” were to, “identify, investigate and seek prosecution of all violations of the Cannabis Control Act and the Controlled Substance Act and any other drug-related crimes.” The above statute is very clear as to the duties of a State’s Attorney’s “special investigator.” Labeled as “special investigators”, Towne’s officers were actually drug enforcement officers.
In June 2015, the Third District Appellate Court ruled Towne’s S.A.F.E. officers were not “special investigators”, as allowed by Illinois law 55ILCS 5/3-9005(b), and his S.A.F.E. unit was illegal. It is the duty of law enforcement officers to investigate violations of the law. It is the duty of the State’s Attorney to prosecute violations of the law.
Julie Ajster, Attorney
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