CHICAGO (CBS) — All it takes is the governor’s signature and Illinois’ new police reform bill becomes law, despite backlash from members of law enforcement and their unions.
“I’m excited about the prospect of what this means for Illinois,” said Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims, D-17th, who sponsored HB 3653. “I think this is a tremendous moment, an historic moment, but it’s also a transformational moment. It allows us to reimagine what public safety and criminal justice looks like in this state.”
The police reform legislation drew criticism from law enforcement and police unions around the state. One of the major concerns is ending qualified immunity, which protects officers from being personally responsible when a person’s constitutional rights are violated. Sims said after hearing feedback, qualified immunity was removed from the bill.
“What we did in replace of those discussions, was to create a commission that would look at issues related to constitutional rights,” he said.
Sims said the commission will be made up of policy experts, law enforcement, and community and legislative members.
“I highly doubt anyone had the ability to really read through it,” said Illinois Rep. David Welter, R-75th.
Welter said the bill was filed at 3:51 a.m., and many lawmakers have yet to read all 764 pages. He said portions that remain, like cash bail, are concerning. Cash bail allows a person to go free at a judge’s discretion if they are not a danger to a specific person.
Another concern is anonymous complaints.
“Allowing anonymous complaints against police officers without having to file an affidavit, it really potentially could hurt our community and the law enforcement’s ability to keep our community safe,” said Welter.
The executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Ed Wojcicki said he wants to be part of any upcoming discussions involving the bill.
“We’re going to ask the governor to veto it, or certainly ammendatorially veto it,” Wojicicki said. “We’re going to identify the most egregious portions of the bill.”
Once he gets the bill, the governor has 60 days to sign it. He issued a statement Wednesday supporting the bill, calling it a model for the nation in justice reform.
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