By Joanna Williams

On January 13th DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick released a statement saying he would not enforce parts of H.B.5471 (the Protect Illinois Communities Act which prohibits the distribution and sale of assault-style weapons) calling the act unconstitutional and refusing to arrest or jail anyone who is charged only with not complying with the weapons ban. Reaction from the DuPage County Chair Deb Conroy was swift: She quickly released a statement expressing disappointment in Mendrick’s comments adding that “we should not be playing politics with state law”.

The following week Democratic county board members, state lawmakers, members of Congress and residents called on Mendrick to retract his statement or step down.  Reps. Bill Foster, Sean Casten and other local lawmakers jointly urged Mendrick to retract his statement: “As sheriff, you do not have the authority to set enforcement priorities based on your personal view of a law’s constitutionality. Moreover, by choosing not to enforce the law, you will put the safety of DuPage residents and law enforcement officers at risk.”

At the close of a heated board meeting on Jan 24, Conroy issued a statement saying “words matter” and indicated she would seek a resolution for censure in response to the sheriff’s statement at the Feb. 14 meeting.

However following a meeting on Jan 30 with Mendrick and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, Conroy issued a statement saying that she has decided not to pursue a resolution to censure Mendrick after the three leaders “engaged in a meaningful conversation during which they discussed their shared commitment to the safety of DuPage County residents” and Sheriff Mendrick committed to  enforce all state and local laws.  The discussion also focused on the fact that the weapons ban does not include a provision mandating that sheriff’s deputies go door to door to remove weapons from people’s homes.

County board member Liz Chaplin responded to the statement: “He (Mendrick) has unnecessarily caused a lot of confusion, fear and anger. He needs to publicly set the record straight that he will enforce the law and all laws.”