SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — A law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker is getting criticism from a local representative who said it’s the reason for staffing shortages in law enforcement.
The SAFE-T Act was introduced in 2020 and requires police officers to wear body cameras, limits the use of force, and changes the way complaints and misconduct against police officers are handled.
Proponents for the bill include Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) who said the focus of the bill was ensuring the legislation was effective.
“Even though we’ve passed this piece of legislation, it means now that we have to continue to have those discussions, so we can make this thing work. This is nothing but a piece of paper or law on our books if it doesn’t work, and we need it to work,” he said last February.
The bill was set to take effect July 1, 2021. Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Jan. 20, Spain said it is working against police officers.
During a virtual press conference Thursday morning, Spain along with GOP House Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis), and Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst), discussed garnering Democratic support to repeal House Bill 3653 or the SAFE-T Act.
“Illinois has taken a very bad and dangerous turn for the worst,” Spain said.
“Crime is up, our friends and neighbors are less safe, and our law enforcement officers job are harder than it’s ever been,” Windhorst said.
When the bill was introduced, he said, only two Republicans were allowed to ask questions before it was passed with 60 votes – the bare minimum needed in order to pass.
Spain went on to say, of the 102 counties in Illinois, half of the sheriff’s departments are facing shortages as a direct result of this bill.
“We’re seeing record numbers of resignations from police officers, sheriff’s and deputy’s throughout the state of Illinois,” Spain said.
He said the best way to go forward is to repeal the safety act, which has been, “damaging and dangerous to the people of Illinois.”
Jeff Lower, Tazewell County Sheriff, said he supports the idea of repealing the bill and would like to see it reconstructed with the input of law enforcement.
GOP leaders said their looking for bipartisan support moving forward.
“I welcome any house democrats who voted for the original law and now recognizes the error they made to joins us,” Windhorst said.
Senator Koehler issued a statement in response Thursday reading: “The issue of community crime and violence is multifaceted. It is not productive to be against a certain piece of legislation, but rather to express what you would support as a solution to these problems. I want good police, in good jobs making our communities safer. You get that by investing in the people and that’s what I’ve done.”
“Crime and violence in our communities is a responsibility that we all have. Only by working together will we find solutions,” Koehler wrote.