SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed the Co-Responders Pilot Program into law, which will allow police to team up with mental health professionals when responding to disturbances or crimes.

The signing of HB 4736 creates a pilot program that will launch in Peoria, Springfield, East St. Louis, and Waukegan for the next six months, followed by a statewide rollout.

The program authorizes police officers to bring mental health professionals along to assess if a person is experiencing a mental health crisis, and whether the subject should be addressed to a mental health facility.

Authorities believe the program will address the root causes of crime.

Pritzker has allocated $10 million to fund the pilot program.

“We know that building a safer Illinois means approaching crime from every possible angle,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This program combines the necessary skills of police with the specialized training of social workers and mental health professionals to address the root causes of crime compassionately and safely. This is supported by data and by what law enforcement officers on the ground are telling us about the incidents they are addressing.”

Gov. Pritzker also signed two other bills into law as part of his administration’s research-informed and multi-pronged approach to public safety and victim’s rights:

  • HB3863, a bill addressing the strain put on first responders and the difficulties associated with attracting and retaining officers. This fund recognizes the challenges and stresses presented by a career in law enforcement and offers retention incentives and recruiting funds to preserve force numbers.
  • HB 2985, which authorizes the creation of a fund to directly pay funeral expenses of children murdered due to gun violence. Previously, families had to pay for these expenses upfront and then apply for reimbursement, placing a financial burden on those most in need of support during a time of tragedy.