SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Law enforcement agencies across the state are speaking out against a sweeping police reform bill passed on Wednesday which ends cash bail within 2 years and mandates the use of police body cameras by 2025.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. JB Pritzker to be signed into law.
The bill was introduced by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in response to nationwide social justice calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
A modified version of the comprehensive police reform plan would eliminate cash bail within 2 years; allow the use of deadly force only when an officer acts in self defense or defending others from bodily harm; makes it easier to decertify officers by eliminating signed affidavit of complaint; limits the purchase of specialized tactical (military) equipment; and mandates the use of police body cameras for all officers by 2025.
A provision which would have removed qualified immunity for individual police officers, potentially exposing them to civil lawsuits, was eliminated from the new version of the bill.
Law enforcement across Illinois have opposed the bill.
“It will make it difficult, if not impossible, to hold suspects in custody when they have been accused of crimes,” said Loves Park Police Chief Chuck Lynde. “It prevents the use of force in almost all situations, including those which are life threatening.”
A Change.org petition is urging Pritzker to veto the legislation, garnering over 95,000 signatures.
Petition organizers say the bill prohibits peace officers from fulfilling their sworn oath and duty.
On Wednesday, Pritzker released a statement supporting the reforms:
“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.”