SPRINGFIELD — Police chiefs and sheriffs told a panel of state lawmakers Friday that they need more resources and support from the public and the General Assembly to tackle a rising rate of violent crime in the state. ‘Illinois. Some said they didn’t feel like they were getting that now, especially in light of recently passed criminal justice reforms.
“There are members of the police who believe the community should have no say in what we do in our profession,” Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell Davis said. “Conversely, there are members of the community who want nothing to do with police officers of any kind. All parties have the right to feel what they feel. But until we can work together despite our differences, we will never fully reach our potential to respond equally to concerns of public safety and violence in all communities.
Davis spoke at a hearing of the House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force, a group that House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, formed in September “to develop a collaborative approach to the crisis of violence”.
Welch formed the task force as Chicago and many other cities experienced their most violent year in decades. Chicago alone recorded some 800 murders during the year, the most in the past quarter century.
The panel is co-chaired by Representatives LaShawn K. Ford and Frances Ann Hurley, both Chicago Democrats.
The rise in violent crime came just after the General Assembly enacted a sweeping package of criminal justice reforms known as the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Fairness Act today, or SAFE-T, which included, among other things, the planned elimination of the cash bond. in Illinois starting next year.
When this law comes into effect on January 1, 2023, courts will still be able to detain people who they believe pose a risk to public safety, but those who are not detained will be released on conditions other than filing a bail.
Ford was the lead House sponsor of this bill, which passed in a lame duck session in January 2021. It was an initiative of the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus and it was born , in part, in response to a large number of unarmed police shootings. Black people, including the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic people being held in jail awaiting trial because they could not pay bail.
But it has come to be seen in some circles as part of a broader anti-law enforcement movement, and Republicans in the General Assembly have called for its repeal.
Lemont Police Chief Marc Maton said public criticism of police in general has led officers to be less willing to take aggressive action to stop crime.
“Our cops are not lying down,” he said. “They see the media, the bills and the community comments, and they think that’s the role that’s expected of them, and the community wants a less aggressive approach from the police and asks for that model. from police.”
Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow said his department has lost officers who trained in Illinois but then moved to work in other states they perceive to be more friendly to the state. ‘law application.
“I lost three officers in the state of Indiana last year, who go to a state that they think is more favorable,” he said. “I recently had an officer talk about…taking a job in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the same reason, because they think the state is more police-friendly, more law enforcement-friendly. order.”
Meanwhile, Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said he believes eliminating cash bail next year will only make the violent crime problem worse.
“Cashless bail has already proven in other states that it doesn’t work and has increased violent crime in those states to record numbers and made those states more violent and less safe, which is what we’re trying to avoid. “, did he declare. “Cashless bail will also increase interaction with police, which I think the community wants to avoid.”
But Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, said she thinks people have misinterpreted what the elimination of cash bail really is.
“We’re removing money as a factor in whether or not someone holds,” she said. “And with our current system – and it happens, unfortunately – people can buy their way out of jail before trial, because someone makes a decision that, you know, will cost them $30,000 to get out.”
Ford attempted to dispel the idea that the SAFE-T Act was meant to be an anti-law enforcement measure or that he was personally anti-law enforcement.
“Let me say I want to thank law enforcement for the things you do every day to make our streets safer and to work with communities,” he said. “I know it’s law enforcement who come up against the line of fire. If I get in trouble, I call the police. And we want to do everything to make sure the police are strong and to make sure the police are well educated when it comes to serving the public.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.