Police reform bill passes state House and Senate, headed to governor’s desk

State News

Photo by Justin Fowler, The State Journal-Register. Provided by the Associated Press.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois House and Senate passed sweeping criminal justice reforms Wednesday morning in Springfield.

In order to get the bill passed, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus cut the elimination of qualified immunity from the bill and did not increase use of force guidelines on officers.

Removing qualified immunity would have placed police at more financial liability for violating someone’s civil rights.

The bill was introduced by the Legislative Black Caucus and their leaders tell WCIA their fight “is far from over.”

Leadership of the Black Caucus assured that there could be more reforms coming in the Spring that revisit the items cut from the bill in the Lame Duck Session.

If signed by the governor, Illinois would do away with the practice of holding people in custody if they can’t afford to post bail. It would drastically change the way people are arrested and held in custody.

People advocating for that change say a person’s poverty level shouldn’t determine how long they are stuck in that cycle.

A database of police officers who wrongly use force would still be maintained.

Governor JB Pritzker has signaled he will sign it.

It was passed by the House before 5 a.m., and by the Senate later Wednesday morning. Some Democrats were not on board with the proposed law, and in the end, it got the minimum amount of votes in each chamber needed to move to the governor’s desk.

Law enforcement have said it would “handcuff them” going forward.

“In the dark of night Illinois legislators made Illinois less safe,” says a coalition of Illinois law enforcement organizations.

The coalition adds a 764-page amendment was introduced at 3:51 a.m. Wednesday, “shoving it through in the middle of the night before the people voting on it even had a chance to read it.

“We had been working in good faith with the Attorney General on a bill that would make great strides to modernize law enforcement, but that legislation was dumped into this monster bill and the result is a betrayal of the public trust that gives many more advantages to criminals than the police,” the coalition statement says. “It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests, and allows criminals to run free while out on bail.

“The legislation includes no way to pay for any of these law-abiding citizen-threatening measures, so taxpayers will have to pay extra for the privilege of being crime victims.”

The coalition is comprised of the the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) State Lodge, FOP Labor Council, FOP Chicago Lodge 7, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

“I voted against this legislation because it will put criminals back on the street much faster and prevent our communities from becoming safer,” says Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur). “It will increase crime and make it more difficult for law enforcement to apprehend criminals in our communities. I am very concerned with the long term ramifications of this anti-law enforcement bill once it becomes fully enacted.”

ORIGINAL POST: SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Lawmakers in the Illinois Senate passed a police reform bill Wednesday morning during the lame-duck session.

A modified version of the law was approved by the state legislative body and is now headed to the House. Ending qualified immunity is no longer in the bill, and there are fewer restrictions on use of force.

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