Police and Courts | WGLT

Police and Courts

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State Troopers and Woodford County Sheriff's investigators say they have arrested three people for drug induced homicide. The case involved a bus hitting and killing an 18-year old woman on Interstate 39 near Kappa.

Bloomington Police Department

Bloomington Police say they have uncovered evidence in a 31-year old cold case murder, though the suspect has died.

Staff / WGLT

Crime in Normal rose about 4% last year but the overall five year average is down about four percent. In this conversation with Charlie Schlenker, Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner says the trend line is not surprising and the useful part of the numbers comes on a shorter term review.

Scott Davidson / Flickr

The McLean County Coroner has identified the man struck and killed by a train early Monday morning.

City of Bloomington

Overall crime in the City of Bloomington fell by about seven percent last year. In the Town of Normal it went up about four percent. But, Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner says year to year swings are not a good sign post. Bleichner says the five year trend has Normal down about four percent. He says there are ebbs and flows from year to year.

Steve Pettaway / US Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will appear at a public event next month at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The university's College of Law says she will conduct a wide-ranging hour-long discussion with Professor Robin B. Kar. The March 7 event is free, but tickets are required. Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court in 2009. She is the country's first Hispanic justice.

Ryan Johnson

The Mayor of Normal says the police department in his town has reinvigorated community policing efforts in the last year. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Chris Koos says the effort can result in better understanding of law enforcement by the general population. "Ideally in the next generation we are going to have more people looking at police as a career," Koos said.


The City of Bloomington is not the only area town looking at a body camera pilot program. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Chris Koos says the town of Normal will also do one. "It wouldn't surprise me if we do it cooperatively with the city of Bloomington, so we all have the same equipment," Koos said.

Person vaping

Anyone under 18 caught "vaping" could have to do community service, or pay a fine. Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but the vaporized solution users inhale does contain nicotine.

Senator Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, says she doesn't consider them safe. Morrison says she'd kept stories about young people puffing on e-cigs. "They were openly and blatantly using these product publicly because there was no reason they shouldn't," she said.

Concealed Carry Permit Demand Slows

Feb 1, 2016
Webmaster2000 / via FLKR

Numbers from Illinois State Police show the agency granted far fewer concealed carry permits statewide in 2015 than in 2014. About 55,500 permits were granted statewide during 2015, compared to about 95,500 in 2014, the first year of the program. But while those numbers are down, the number of objections to applications that were made by law enforcement more than doubled. Police snd state's attorneys raised objections to nearly 11,000 applications statewide in 2015, compared to almost 4,000 in 2014.

Normal Police Department

Police say the young woman has been located.

Illinois State University Helps Women Become Cops

Jan 28, 2016
Department of Criminal Justice Sciences / Illinois State University

There are not a lot of female cops. Only 13% of police in the US are women. A program at Illinois State University is changing that, one cop at a time. WGLT's Jim Browne has the story.

On April 1, 1908, 48-year old Lola Baldwin was sworn in as a "female detective to perform police service" for Portland, Oregon. It's believed she was the first female law enforcement officer hired by an American city or town.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

A federal jury has convicted a former Chicago official on all counts for taking bribes to steer $100 million in red-light camera contracts to a Phoenix company. Jurors returned with a guilty verdict on all 20 counts this afternoon. They began deliberating Monday.

Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner says the nation's mayors are keenly interested in restoring trust in law enforcement. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Renner said the idea of community policing was a hot topic at last week's conference of U.S. Mayors, and it's important for the twin cities as well.

He says the community is becoming more diverse with a sizeable Indian population, a growing Latino sector, and a substantial African American part of the community.

Panhandlers Sue City of Chicago

Jan 25, 2016
JeremyA / Facebook via Creative Commons

A lawsuit brought by panhandlers who say they lose up to $10 a day because authorities bar them from a popular public square in Chicago is set to go to trial. The in Chicago federal court is a rare instance of jurors being asked to decide the issue of panhandlers' rights. The panhandlers say authorities violate their constitutional rights. The defendants include the Cook County Sheriff's Department, whose deputies help with Daley Plaza security. It argues the prohibition at the site outside an Illinois courthouse is justified, including on safety grounds.

A Bloomington armed robbery resulted in one shooting injury, and one arrest. Police say they have booked 18-year old Richard Sims for Aggravated Battery with a Firearm. That connects to a reported armed robbery Wednesday afternoon at Jackson and Lang's Alley near downtown Bloomington. Police were called to OSF St. Joseph Medical Center when a man came in with a gunshot wound. The non-life threatening injury was in the calf. The 19 year old male shooting victim, and a 20 year old say they were held up. Police say they believe the shooting may have come out of an argument about drugs.

Arrest Made In Christmas Morning Robbery

Jan 21, 2016

A Chicago man is being held in the McLean County Jail, for Aggravated Robbery in connection with the Christmas morning hold up at the Shell Gas Station on North Main Street in Normal. 27-year old Darius Vaughn was arrested for the stickup following the search of a residence in the 700 block of West Orlando. He's being held in lieu of $150,000 bond. No one was injured during the robbery, which took place just after midnight on Christmas. The store clerk reported the robber used a gun.

Kiki1196 / Flickr via Creative Commons

A Peoria County judge has ruled that he didn't err when he found a man accused of murder fit for trial four years ago. Edjuan Payne was found guilty of killing Orvette Davis and sentenced to life in prison in 2012. An Illinois appeals court sent Payne's case back to Chief Judge Steve Kouri in April, taking exception with how he ruled Payne was fit for trial. Appellate judges said Kouri relied on the prosecutor and defense attorney saying a report stated Payne was fit, but that judges typically review such evidence themselves.

Charlie Schlenker

McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen has resigned saying he does not want his legal troubles to be a distraction to the employees and elected officials of the county. Sorensen turned in a letter shortly before a meeting of the County Executive Committee. In it he said it has been a true pleasure to serve the people. Sorensen is under federal fraud indictment over an alleged false billing scheme involving Sorensen's consulting businesses. County Board Vice Chair John McIntyre says the situation is unfortunate.

McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen will wait a couple more days for his first court appearance on federal wire fraud charges. He faces five counts related to an alleged false billing scheme to defraud State Farm Insurance. The appearance had been set for Monday but is now slated for Wednesday afternoon. Sorensen's co-defendant Navdeep Arora allegedly gave Sorensen more than $370,000 when Arora was a partner in the consulting firm of McKinsey and Company. Sorensen was an internal consultant at State Farm until 2012, also the year Arora left McKinsey and Company.

Judge David Butler

One of the things that changed with the New Year is the departure of a longtime fixture on the McLean County bench. Circuit Judge Charles Reynard retired.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen faces a federal fraud indictment. The document alleges Sorensen conspired with an outside consulting firm when he was an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to engage in false billing for work never done. Sorensen allegedly personally benefited by more than $370,000 in the scheme. State Farm says it alerted federal prosecutors to the situation in 2012 and Sorensen has not worked for State Farm since.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos sits during a town council meeting.
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos is taking a wait and see approach on the indictment of McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen.  He spoke with WGLT's Mike McCurdy.

Sorenson is accused of using his position as an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to collude with an outside firm to file phony consulting work invoices. The indictment also alleges Sorenson steered State Farm work to fellow defendant Navdeep Arora a former partner at the firm of McKinsey and Company, who was arrested Sunday. 

McLean County Board Chair Indicted

Jan 5, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

The head of the McLean County Board has been indicted in a fraud case.  Matt Sorensen is accused of using his position as an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to collude with an outside firm to file phony invoices for consulting work never done. The indictment also alleges Sorensen steered State Farm work to fellow defendant Navdeep Arora a former partner at the firm of McKinsey and Company, who was arrested Sunday.

Steve Damron / Flickr

Some Illinois drivers who have had their licenses revoked after multiple DUI convictions could get the chance to get behind the wheel again under a law that goes into effect in January. Applicants for the restricted license would have to prove they have been sober for three years.

Those who get a license will have to install a breathalyzer ignition lock in their cars, also known as a BAID device. Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz says the new law aims to make the roads safer.

Van Dyke Pleads Not Guilty

Dec 29, 2015

The defense attorney for the white Chicago officer charged with murder in the death of a black teenager says ``more education'' for officers is a good thing. Defense attorney Dan Herbert said that Officer Jason Van Dyke, who pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday, is ``hanging in there'' and wants to tell his side of the story so that he's not seen ``as this cold-blooded killer.'' Herbert also said that they haven't ruled out asking for a change of venue.  

Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington Aldermen are considering several options to recover costs of providing additional police protection to serve the Downtown Bloomington bar district. Mayor Tari Renner and Alderman Scott Black spoke with WGLT's Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas.

Bloomington Council Looking To Fund Downtown Police

Dec 22, 2015
Michael Hill / WGLT

Businesses serving alcohol in downtown Bloomington could begin footing the bill for extra police officers that patrol the area during peak hours. The Bloomington City Council is looking at five different proposals to bring in $130,000 for the Downtown Police Hireback Cost Recovery Program. Police Chief Brendan Heffner says the program started as a way make sure the rest of the city can stay safe.

Champaign Police Officer Embroiled In Controversy

Dec 18, 2015
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Media

The city of Champaign has agreed to settle a second lawsuit filed against the Champaign police department in a case involving the same officer. The department had tried to fire Officer Matt Rush, but he’s back on patrol, thanks to a police union arbitrator.

As IPR's Hannah Meisel reports, documents just released explain why Rush kept his job.

Obama Issues Commutations

Dec 18, 2015

Nine people from Illinois are among the 95 whose prison sentences have been commuted by President Barack Obama. All of those from Illinois were convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Most involved cocaine distribution.  

They included Alton Mills of Chicago. He has served 22 years of a mandatory life sentence for cocaine distribution.  U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said in a news release that he had pushed to help Mills. Durbin said Mills is a victim of what the senator called "disproportionately harsh" sentencing laws.