Some DuPage County residents and several county board members are calling on Sheriff James Mendrick to either retract his statement about not enforcing provisions of the state’s ban on some firearms or step down.
Mendrick was not available for comment Tuesday and did not attend the DuPage County Board’s judicial and public safety committee meeting where his stance drew sharp criticism from residents and board members.
“Bottom line: Mendrick was elected to enforce the law and not interpret it,” Elmhurst resident Amy Lippert said in an email read at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “If he won’t uphold his oath and enforce the law, he should resign or be recalled. If he wants to interpret laws, he can try to become a judge.”
The Republican sheriff, who ran unopposed in November for a second term, issued a statement Friday saying he believes House Bill 5471, which the governor signed into law last week, is unconstitutional. The law, in part, bans the sale, purchase and manufacture of certain high-powered weapons and high-capacity magazines. It also requires those who already own such weapons to register them with the Illinois State Police.
In his statement Friday, Mendrick said he believed the new law violates Second Amendment rights and his office will not arrest those who do not register their weapons, nor will it arrest or house anyone charged solely with not complying with the act.
Members of the judicial and public safety committee expressed outrage Tuesday over those remarks, noting the county board voted in October to support state and federal legislation banning the sale of high-powered weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Committee members echoed calls for Mendrick to retract his statement, with some suggesting the board should censure the sheriff if he does not. It was unclear Tuesday if the board has the authority to censure a sheriff. Committee members asked a representative from the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office to research the matter.
County board member Liz Chaplin said if the sheriff does not retract his statement, he should step down.
“If he can’t enforce the laws of the state then he needs to really consider stepping aside,” said Chaplin, a Democrat from Downers Grove. “We need somebody in that office that’s responsible and that will uphold the laws of this state.”
Others, however, showed support for Mendrick and said it was unrealistic to expect that the sheriff’s office could enforce registration of weapons.
“He does not have the resources to put a task force or deputy sheriffs or whoever else … to go door to door,” said county board member Grant Eckhoff, a Republican from Wheaton. “It’s either answer the 911 calls and do the job that he’s been doing, or go door to door.”
DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deb Conroy, who on Friday said she was disappointed in Mendrick’s comments, on Tuesday suggested Mendrick should come to a county board meeting to explain. Mendrick has been absent at recent county board meetings.
Lawmakers representing DuPage County also issued a statement Tuesday rebuking Mendrick’s remarks.
“The sheriff has no authority to determine the constitutionality of a law — that is up to the courts,” reads the statement signed by 16 state legislators. “Nor can he pick and choose which laws to enforce; he must enforce them all.”
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January 17, 2023 at 06:11PM