Gov. Jay Pritzker of Illinois signed into law a police and criminal justice bill despite opposition from law enforcement agencies, ABC 7 reports. House Bill 3653, referred to as the Police and Criminal Justice Reform Bill, would eliminate cash bail throughout te state by 2023. The stated justification for this provision is that “the poor” cannot pay bail but the wealthy can.
“We’re ending a system of cash bond that stands at the intersection of race, class, and gender,” said state Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).
The new law goes well beyond eliminating cash bail. Several provisions of the law will significantly change how police are allowed to do their job. The law prohibits police use of choke holds, requires the use of body cameras, forbids police officers will no longer to chase suspects who attempt to escape arrest. Police will be required to undergo training in conflict de-escalation and crisis intervention. The new law also makes it easier to file an anonymous complaint against a police officer.
In signing the bill, Pritzker said it “marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation and brings the state closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Republican lawmakers called the new law “an insult to our first responders, law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens,” according to the Sun-Times.
“By signing HB 3653 into law today, JB Pritzker failed the people of Illinois in terms of both policy and leadership,” said Republican State Senator Paul Schimpf. “Adamantly opposed by nearly all Illinois law enforcement leaders, HB 3653 makes Illinois communities and families less safe.”
Most police officers are calling this an “anti-police” law, saying it will make it more difficult for them to do their job, reports ABC-7.
“Now the officer is guilty of misconduct because he left out information that was on the body camera but it wasn’t in the report,” said Indian Head Park Police Chief Steven Stelter. “According to this bill, he is guilty of a Class 3 felony.”
Oakbrook Police Chief James Kruger told ABC-7 Illinois police chiefs were not consulted in the writing of the bill. The chiefs support reform but wanted to offer their views on what their experience tells them are workable adjustments, Kruger said.
The new law, for example, prohibits tasing a suspect in the back, but law enforcement officers typically target the back because it is the “safest part of the body,” Kruger said. Forcing officers to tase a suspect in the front could cause worse damage.
“Now you are forcing an officer to only tase someone in the front of their body, and who knows, in the heat of the moment they may tase somebody in places they are not supposed to; in the groin, head, neck,” Stelter told ABC-7.
Rep. Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) filed a bill, House Bill 3715, in response to the bill Pritzker signed. Chesney lambasted the new law, stating it will “punish police and protect criminals,” My Stateline reports.
“I don’t believe a side-arm and a bullet-proof vest is enough to keep law enforcement safe in light of this legislation becoming law,” Chesney said in a press release. “Law enforcement now continues the slide into one of the most dangerous professions in Illinois.”
Chesney’s bill would make it a hate crime, with increased penalties, for those who engage in violence or threats against current or former police officers.
Crime has been increasing in Chicago, with particularly high homicide rates, reports Budget and Tax News. Violent criminals have been emboldened, and low-income neighborhoods have been besieged by the explosion in criminal behavior. Police officers have become a particular target of violence. A spike in violence against police resulted in 71 officers shot in 2020, with 10 killed.
Many police officers in the state are expressing concern about increasingly lenient treatment of criminals, ABC 7 reports.
“History shows progressives’ tough-on-police, sympathetic-to-criminals policies result in disaster and misery for much of the public,” says Harvard University urban economist Edward Glaeser.
Springfield, Illinois Alderman Chuck Redpath, who has a law enforcement background, describes the new law as a “slap in the face” to law enforcement, The Center Square reports.
“I saw the picture this morning of the governor touting how much he’s going to fix racism in police departments and surrounded by all these people from Chicago, the most corrupt city in not just the state of Illinois but probably the country, and they’re going to tell us how to reform our police departments,” Redpath said. “Are you serious?”
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