Cook Co. warrant unit brings in domestic violence offenders - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

EXCLUSIVE: Cook Co. warrant unit brings in domestic violence offenders

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

EXCLUSIVE: Domestic violence is the number one leading cause of injury to American women aged 15-44. Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends Thursday. But spreading the word doesn't have to.

FOX 32's Patrick Elwood got an exclusive invitation from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to accompany his officers as they arrest suspects charged with a domestic violence crime, but skipped their court date.

It's a troubling statistic: Once every 15 seconds, a woman is abused in our country. If the accused goes on the lam in Cook County, a group of specially trained cops will be at the ready!

Cook County Sheriff's police made an arrest on the North Side in October, when "Mike" failed to appear in court to answer for a domestic violence charge. With several drug charges as well, he's no stranger to the legal system.

"I'm just dealing with a lot of tragedy and stuff in my life right now," Michael said.

The arrests are made by Dart's Warrant Execution Unit. Seven teams with more than 60 officers fanned out across the county that day, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

"The most important thing that we do after we make an arrest is going to be the physical search of the arrestee," one officer said during the 5 a.m. roll call.

The unit's directive was to get the offenders – but also get home to their families safe and sound.

The team FOX 32 rode along with was made up of veteran officers. They were very professional and heavily armed, due to the volatile nature of domestic violence calls.

The unit reflects Chicago's ethnic make-up. One officer was fluent in Spanish, another in Serbian, another in Polish – and of course, they all spoke English.

"The sheriff takes domestic battery very seriously," Officer Bob O'Neil said. He has been on the job for 22 years, and he is the director of the unit.

"When you go in the house you go in for domestic battery, sometimes at one time the girlfriend or wife was mad at him," O'Neil said. "Now she's back in love with him. Now they all turn against the police as soon as you get in the house."

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to American women aged 15-44, more than rape, muggings and car accidents combined.

In Michael's case, he said he never touched his old girlfriend, but he did make verbal threats.

To be sure, Mike has seen better days. He will be taken to the medical wing of the Cook County Jail and will soon appear before the judge.

More than 12 prescription medications were found in a plastic bag when Michael was arrested. Mike says he has cancer and he has AIDS. He will ask the judge for leniency.

The officers wished him well and went back to what they are paid to do and do well - enforcing the laws designed to keep everyone safe.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends on Thursday. But 51 fugitives were brought in by The Cook County Sheriff's warrants unit before Halloween. FOX 32 News will see what the day brings.

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