SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Police officers across the country are facing an increase in violent acts against them and the problem now has the attention of Illinois lawmakers.
Concerned that violence against police is increasing, state lawmakers have introduced legislation to stiffen penalties for assault and harassment of officers. The Police Protection Act would make “officer targeting” a Class 3 felony.
The Police Hate Crime Bill labels any offense where an individual attacks or stalks an officer as a hate crime.
Recent FBI statistics reveled that over 60,000 law enforcement officers were injured in the line of duty nationwide last year.
State Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines), the sponsor of the act, points to the July 2020 violence in Grant Park when at least 1,000 people swarmed the Christopher Columbus statue in an attempt to topple it, as proof the legislation is needed.
“There’s no respect for police officers anymore,” Moylan said. “Those people weren’t protestors, they were trained anarchists.”
Stressing she has not read the legislation, Mayor Lightfoot weighed in on Monday.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are sending a very clear message that we will hold people accountable,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “This is probably one of the most difficult time to be the police maybe in the history of city and perhaps even the country. I will forever be haunted by what happened at the Columbus Statue last year and so will the individual police officers who were hurt.”
The ACLU Illinois has come out against the act.
“It’s an idea that doesn’t address the problem that the proponents actually say they want to address,” ACLU’s Ed Yohnka said. “You look at studies over the years any time you add an enhancement to a penalty for a crime it doesn’t reduce that crime.”
Marty Moylan’s bill also asks for $100 million for modernize police departments throughout Illinois.