Sheriff now said to be ‘committed’ to enforcing laws, so DuPage Board chair won’t seek censure

DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick faced harsh criticism Tuesday from some county board members and residents over his remarks about enforcing the state's new ban on certain firearms. )Associated Press file photo)

Almost one week after saying she would seek censure of DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick, DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy is changing course.

In a joint statement with Mendrick and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, Conroy said Jan. 30 she has decided not to pursue a resolution to censure Mendrick after the three county leaders “engaged in a meaningful conversation during which they discussed their shared commitment to the safety of DuPage County residents.”

The discussion also focused on Illinois’ new weapons ban and how it does not include a provision mandating that sheriff’s deputies go door to door to remove weapons from people’s homes.

“With this understanding, Sheriff Mendrick is committed to enforcing all state and local laws,” the statement read.

Mendrick came under fire earlier in January when he issued a statement saying he would not arrest or jail anyone who is charged only with not complying with the state’s new weapons ban.

Conroy quickly released a statement Jan. 13 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 some residents called on Mendrick to retract his statement or step down.

Conroy closed out a heated county board meeting Jan. 24 with a statement saying “words matter” and that she would seek a resolution for censure at the Feb. 14 board meeting.

Meanwhile, Mendrick appeared on AM 560′s “Black and Right” radio program and on Fox News’ “America Reports” defending his stance. He maintained he believed the state’s new weapons ban was unconstitutional and said that while he would not jail people solely for noncompliance, he would continue to investigate crimes involving weapons.

While the DuPage County Board posted the joint statement on social media Jan. 30, Mendrick had not yet shared the statement on the sheriff’s social media page as of 3:30 p.m. Jan. 30. Mendrick’s original Jan. 13 statement remained posted on the DuPage County sheriff’s Facebook page.

County board member Liz Chaplin, a Downers Grove Democrat, said the joint statement was “a good start” but expressed some reservation.

“When I see the sheriff post on social media, I will feel much better about this,” she said. “He 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.”

A spokesman for Berlin said his office would not be making any further statement.

Alicia Fabbre Daily Herald Media Group

Alicia Fabbre is a local journalist who contributes to the Daily Herald