SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — On a couple of occasions in the past year, Amber Oberheim visited the Illinois Capitol to talk with lawmakers.
She was joined by other widows of officers who died while on duty.
While there, she advocated for law enforcement officers at all levels.
“I think public safety is huge,” Oberheim said. “And officer safety is a part of that.”
Lawmakers fought over how to tackle the issue of public safety for months, but finally settled on where to put their money.
Illinois’ budget included millions of dollars in investments for law enforcement, and fresh commitments to help with training and recruitment for departments across the state.
“Illinois has never seen an effort this robust to fight and solve crime,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said the morning after the legislature passed the budget.
Seeing these line items get added to the legislative check list proved to Oberheim that her trips to Springfield were not in vain.
“We’re making progress,” Oberheim said. “There are discussions that are being had, which makes me happy, both sides of the table seem to be able to come together and agree on some things, which is better than where we have been.”
Oberheim joined a roundtable of law enforcement representatives in Decatur Monday night. Republican Candidate for the 13th Congressional District Jesse Reising hosted the roundtable.
Part of that roundtable focused on the attitude of the public towards police. Oberheim, who’s advocacy for law enforcement has taken her to other states and will take her to Washington D.C. later this month, pointed to these attitudes as the real reason departments have trouble filling open positions.
“I hear things like well, police officers signed up to do that job. So what do they expect?” Oberheim said. Well, I don’t think anybody signs up to do a job where they get shot at on a regular occasion.”
Reising also seized on the rhetoric surrounding police — a common tactic for Republicans in this election cycle.
“The tone starts at the top with those who are in leadership positions, and we have to change the tone to hold up the law enforcement profession as the noble profession that we all know that it is.”
Oberheim said the state is far from her ideal finish line. Until they reach that point, she will continue to make more trips to the Capitol.
“I’d like to see a little stricter punishment, a little stricter consequence for some of the heinous acts that people choose to, you know, to commit,” Oberheim said. “So until that happens, I’m probably not going to stop visiting the Capitol.”