Sheriff expresses concern over criminal justice reform bill

Local News

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — With state lawmakers considering a bill focused on criminal justice reform, one sheriff in central Illinois is among those voicing his concerns. He’s worried it’s moving too fast, and some parts of the measure could do more harm than good.

The bill is more than 600 pages long. It includes ways to get unethical officers off the streets and improve officer training. It also prevents people who aren’t a flight risk or a harm to others from being detained. The bill was introduced yesterday and could be voted on within a week, but Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman says it needs more consideration before that happens. His full joint statement with Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz can be found here.

“The overall concepts are good. I just think that we need to stop. We need to take some time, and slow down and get some police reform that makes sense as opposed to throwing a bunch of police reform in there and then having unintended consequences down the road,” Heuerman explained.

One aspect the bill addresses is taking away qualified immunity. That’s protection for officers when they make mistakes, as long as it’s not intentional, depending on the circumstances. However, Heuerman says officers should have protection in some cases. Another part of this bill is making officer complaints stay on their record, even if the complaints aren’t fact-checked. Heuerman feels complaints should have to be validated.

That bill has not been called yet. It’s part of the House’s lame-duck session, which lasts until the 13th. It’s possible it could be considered prior to that deadline. Heuerman fears lawmakers haven’t had enough time to review it.

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