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

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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 say 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 just 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.

“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.”

Lawmakers added a 764-page amendment around 3:51 a.m. Wednesday, drawing criticism from a coalition of groups 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.

“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 said in a statement. “It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests, and allows criminals to run free while out on bail.

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