Illinois police and Republican lawmakers are united in opposing Illinois’s news criminal reform bill, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law on Monday. Written and deployed in response to the racial justice movement that transpired in the wake of George Floyd’s death last summer, the bill has attracted condemnation from the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Troopers Lodge 41 and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.
These groups have united as the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition, and they released a statement on Wednesday warning that the new law will have a major impact on the safety of the state’s citizens.
“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 groups wrote. “Please don’t let us measure its dismal failure by the shattered lives it produces.”
The groups accused Pritzker of choosing “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.”
“We urge all citizens to remember who supported this law,” the statement said, “and keep that in mind the next time they look to the police in Illinois for the protection they can no longer provide.”
Among other things, the bill will require all police officers in the state to wear body cameras by 2025, and it will require officials to develop a “statewide use of force standard for law enforcement agencies.” It will eliminate the implementation of cash bail by 2023, and create programs and services to address issues of mental health and substance abuse. It also mandates that police departments retain officer misconduct records and develop plans “to protect vulnerable people present during search warrant raids.”
“This is a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice,” said Pritzker. “In this terrible year, in the middle of a brutal viral pandemic that hurt Black people and Brown people disproportionately, lawmakers fought to address the pandemic of systemic racism in the wake of national protests.
“This bill was also infused with solutions from individuals most directly impacted: survivors of domestic violence, survivors of crime, and those who have been detained pre-trial only because they are poor. Today we advance our values in the law,” he continued.
But State Sen. John Curran (R) said the bill will only wreak havoc.
“Gov. Pritzker has enacted this hyper-partisan legislation against the strong objections of nearly every law enforcement organization in the state, and against the great concern of the general public,” he said. “There are some positives in this legislation – specifically the changes that make it easier to reprimand and de-certify bad actors in law enforcement who have broken the public’s trust. Unfortunately, the negatives, which could have been further negotiated had the sponsors been open to bipartisan support, will undoubtedly make our communities less safe.”
Unfortunately, when the only metric Democrats care about is “fewer black people get arrested,” this experiment in dismantling law enforcement is sure to be a success. As for Illinois residents who might have other priorities…well, this might be a good time to find somewhere else to live.