DuPage County Sheriff may face censure over assault weapons stance

Headshot of DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick
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DuPage County Board Chair Deb Conroy said she plans to introduce a resolution at the board’s Jan. 14 meeting to censure Sheriff James Mendrick for his statement about not fully enforcing Illinois’ recent ban on assault weapons. 

“It is my feeling that the board needs to have confidence that our sheriff focuses on the safety of our residents and not engage in inflammatory political rhetoric,” said Conroy at today’s board meeting in Wheaton. 

More than 200 people at board meeting

Mendrick was not in attendance. But the room was packed, with more than 200 people turning out both in support and opposition to the sheriff’s stance. 

Last week Mendrick posted a statement saying he would not be checking to see if lawful gun owners register their weapons with the state, nor would he arrest or house anyone in jail solely for non-compliance with the ban. He called the ban a violation of the Second Amendment.

A Downers Grove resident told Mendrick to “come and face his constituents.”

“These guns are killing people, this is a good law and you need to support all the laws that are passed by the state. “If someone wants to question the constitutionality, it goes to the court, your job is to support the laws,” he said.

West Chicago resident Joe Cosentino backed Mendrick, and accused members of the board of placing “personal and partisan politics above the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“I would like to thank Sheriff Mendrick for standing up for the rights of the citizens of DuPage County and to not waver in the face of having the treasonous board asking for his resignation,” said Cosentino. 

Board members weigh in

Members of the DuPage County Board shared their opinions as well. District 1 Representative Michael Childress said Mendrick should “follow what the oath says.”

“Whether you like the law or do not like the law, it’s irrelevant to me,” said Childress. “You said that you would do and enforce the laws of the state of Illinois, and that is what this board expects you to do.”

District 6 Representative James Zay sided with Mendrick, saying there needs to be more mental health funding and more substantial penalties for those who commit crimes with firearms. 

“Our sheriff has done great work in DuPage County over the past four years,” said Zay. “And I have no doubt he’ll continue to protect the citizens of our county.”

Messages to Mendrick

Mendrick’s stance has drawn disapproval from a number of lawmakers.

Last week several local members of Congress wrote a letter to the sheriff, asking him to rescind his statement. 

And on Monday, U.S. Representatives, state legislators, members of the Illinois congressional delegation, and DuPage County Board members met at the Danada House in Wheaton for a press conference, speaking out against Mendrick’s stance. During it, Rep. Sean Casten called for Mendrick to either retract his statement or resign. 

After the announcement, Mendrick released a statement saying the legislators held the press conference “to admonish and berate me, your DuPage County Sheriff, for questioning their authority of a very poorly written piece of legislation that has no clear direction on who will be enforcing new gun laws.”

He went on to say that he would “enforce any gun laws when it is tied to any other criminal activity,” and spoke of previous requests he’d made to increase penalties on “all existing gun crimes.”

Mendrick is one of the dozens of Illinois sheriffs who have spoken out about the ban.

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