IL police reform bill passes state House and Senate, headed to governor’s desk

Regional News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Legislators in the Illinois General Assembly approved a police reform bill Wednesday morning.

The final version of the bill has scrapped provisions that would remove qualified immunity for police officers in Illinois, which would have placed them at more financial liability for violating someone’s civil rights.

Lawmakers did not have enough votes to pass the legislation including the measure of ending qualified immunity.

If signed by the governor, Illinois would do away with the practice of holding people in custody if they can’t afford to post bail. It would drastically change the way people are arrested and held in custody.

People advocating for that change say a person’s poverty level shouldn’t determine how long they are stuck in that cycle.

A database of police officers who wrongly use force would still be maintained.

The bill was introduced by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and their leaders tell WCIA their fight “is far from over.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker has signaled he will sign it, issuing the following statement:

“I have long held that an essential mark of good governance is a willingness to change the laws that have failed the people of Illinois. This criminal justice package carries with it the opportunity to shape our state into a lesson in true justice for the nation by abolishing cash bail, modernizing sentencing laws, instituting a certification and decertification system for police officers statewide, requiring body cameras, reforming crowd control response, and amplifying law enforcement training standards. I was proud to make ending cash bail and modernizing sentencing laws a legislative priority of my administration, and I have long pledged my support to the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in their efforts to pass not just criminal justice reform and police accountability measures, but also to truly root out the systemic racism that pulses through all our nation’s institutions by pursuing greater equity in healthcare, higher goals in education, and deeper investments in economic opportunity for communities that have for too long been left out and left behind.

“In addition to recognizing the countless activists and advocates who have dedicated years – if not lifetimes – to pushing for change in a nation that locks people up at the highest rate in the world, I want to specifically offer my gratitude to Committee Chairs Representative Justin Slaughter and Senator Elgie Sims, Senator Robert Peters, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the ACLU of Illinois, the Coalition to End Money Bond, the Illinois Justice Project, the People’s Lobby, and all who have committed themselves to building a fairer and more equitable Illinois.” 

It was passed by the House just before 5 a.m., and by the Senate later Wednesday morning. Some Democrats were not on board with the proposed law, and in the end, it got the minimum amount of votes in each chamber needed to move to the governor’s desk.

Law enforcement have said it would “handcuff them” going forward.

“I voted against this legislation because it will put criminals back on the street much faster and prevent our communities from becoming safer,” says Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur). “It will increase crime and make it more difficult for law enforcement to apprehend criminals in our communities. I am very concerned with the long term ramifications of this anti-law enforcement bill once it becomes fully enacted.”

ORIGINAL POST: SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Lawmakers in the Illinois Senate passed a police reform bill Wednesday morning during the lame-duck session.

A modified version of the law was approved by the state legislative body and is now headed to the House. Ending qualified immunity is no longer in the bill, and there are fewer restrictions on use of force.

“In the dark of night Illinois legislators made Illinois less safe,” says a coalition of Illinois law enforcement organizations.

It adds a 764-page amendment was introduced at 3:51 a.m. Wednesday, “shoving it through in the middle of the night before the people voting on it even had a chance to read it.

“We had been working in good faith with the Attorney General on a bill that would make great strides to modernize law enforcement, but that legislation was dumped into this monster bill and the result is a betrayal of the public trust that gives many more advantages to criminals than the police,” the coalition statement says. “It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests, and allows criminals to run free while out on bail.

“The legislation includes no way to pay for any of these law-abiding citizen-threatening measures, so taxpayers will have to pay extra for the privilege of being crime victims.”

The coalition is comprised of the the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) State Lodge, FOP Labor Council, FOP Chicago Lodge 7, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

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