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Prosecutor lauds Aurora’s murder-free 2012

Joe McMahKane County State's Attorney 12-7-10

Joe McMahon Kane County State's Attorney 12-7-10

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Updated: February 10, 2013 5:58PM

ST. CHARLES — Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon on Tuesday praised police and community groups for a murder-free 2012 in Aurora.

“It’s a remarkable step given where Aurora was in the mid-90s,” McMahon said during his monthly press briefing.

Last year, a decade after 25 murders were reported in the city, Aurora went without a murder for the first time in 66 years. As recently as 2007, the city had 13 murders, but the number has declined ever since.

Speaking generally about Kane’s urban centers — Aurora, Elgin and Carpentersville — with higher gang membership, McMahon said residents and community groups have seen what gangs can do and decided “it’s not OK to close the blinds” on the problem. He added that gang shooting have decreased over the last decade.

“A lot of different community groups have worked hard to improve their neighborhoods ... and work with police,” McMahon said of Aurora, where police used “21st century technology and old-fashioned shoe leather” to combat crime.

McMahon agreed the state’s attorney’s office — which filed 2,620 felonies in 2012, down from a high-water mark of 3,849 in 2007 — has participated in the comprehensive effort to reduce gangs. McMahon’s office filed a civil suit last year against several members of the Latin Kings street gang. Prosecutors have in recent years also charged and gone to trial on many “cold cases” relating to gang killings in Aurora.

“Our goal is to get rid of gang activity,” McMahon said. “We’re going to make it difficult for you to engage in gang activity.”

Also Tuesday, McMahon discussed “tweaks” to his office to create four bureaus to cover specific areas of prosecution. Each bureau is headed by an experienced prosecutor, who also serves a role in an overall mentoring program for the office’s newer assistant state’s attorneys. However, one of those seasoned prosecutors, Alice Tracy, will soon be leaving her role leading the Felony Trials section to take her spot on the bench after a recent appointment as an associate judge. McMahon called judicial appointments for Tracy and fellow prosecutor Betsy Flood “a long time dream for both of them.”

The appointments continue a trend of experienced Kane prosecutors — including McMahon’s predecessor, Judge John Barsanti — leaving the office for judicial positions. McMahon sees that as a testament to the quality and approach of the office over the years.

“It’s been going on for a long time,” he said. “I think it’s a compliment to the history of this office.”

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