CHICAGO, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a 764-page police reform bill into law at a press conference in Chicago on Monday, claiming the proposal would “dismantle systemic racism.”
The new proposal would end cash bail, require all police to eventually wear and use body cameras, restrict police from the use of force, and require more transparency and accountability for officers who do engage in the use of force when detaining a suspect.
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus celebrated the passage of the new law, claiming it turned the summer of “protest into progress.”
A coalition of sheriffs, state troopers, and police unions issued a joint statement, saying, “Governor Pritzker chose to listen to a few strident political voices rather than the 120,000 petition signing citizens who plainly saw the bill for what it is.”
“Because we are sworn to protect and serve the public, we sincerely hope that we will not be proven right about this new law, that it won’t cause police officers to leave the profession in droves and handcuff those who remain so they can’t stop crimes against people and property,” the statement said.
“As this is passing today, we still feel like the process for this was not a good process and ultimately this is a bill that will not improve public safety but will hurt public safety,” said Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Rick Ciganek. “I still feel like the sheriff and the department and law enforcement in general across the state of Illinois is not happy about the process and the way this bill came about.”
State Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford), a long-time supporter of the bill, says it’s a step in the right direction.
“This is a great, great step towards social justice towards empowerment for everyone,” Rep. West said. “I was thinking the sigh of relief that a lot of people in our community is going to have because of the fact that Illinois is focused on police accountability and is focusing on empowering the community at the same level as our law enforcement officers.”
Chief Deputy Ciganek says the bill will create major changes for law enforcement agencies, but he hopes their voices can still be heard.
“As the professional organizations throughout the state and law enforcement are hoping that now that the bill is passed, that our political representatives are listening to our voices now and will work with us to amend some of the problem language in this bill,” Ciganek said.
Rep. West says he’s open to having those conversations with those who disagree with the bill.
“Nothing in this bill goes into effect until July of this year so we still have 5 months to follow up with clean-up language and follow up with the tweaks that we need to tweak. I’m 100% committed to that alongside [Sheriff] Caruana and [Chief] O’Shea,” West added.
Dave Parsons, a 24-year veteran officer with the Mahomet police department who joined the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police asked, “Why would you write a bill that has problems to start with?”
Parsons said the measure restricts police from pursuing or apprehending suspects who may be trespassing on private property.
“You asked them to leave, they don’t leave, you call the police,” Parsons said. “We’d say, ‘Hey, you need to leave.’ They won’t. The best we can do is issue a summons to appear later. And they could stay right there and continue doing what they’re doing illegally, and we cannot do a single thing about it. It’s just not safe for the public.”
What the new police reform law does:
- Requires police to wear and use body cameras by January 1st, 2025
- Restricts police use of force only to instances that protect human life
- Requires officers to report when colleagues use force without justification
- Restricts officers from pursuing a suspect if they can be reasonably apprehended at a later date
- Restricts officers from detaining suspects accused of Class B or C misdemeanors
- Allows anonymous complaints against police officers
What the new police reform law does not do:
- End qualified immunity
- Defund police departments or local governments for refusing to wear body cameras
- Weaken collective bargaining power for police unions
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.