A proposed ambitious overhaul of Illinois law enforcement has run into stiff headwinds from police and prosecutors who say it would eliminate “policing as we know it.”
House Bill 163, scheduled for debate during the final days of the 101st General Assembly, includes measures to eliminate cash bail, end qualified immunity for police officers, and mandate body cameras for all departments.
While some lawmakers support the bill, insisting that it provides necessary and important changes to the state’s criminal justice system, many feel that more work needs to be done to ensure that police officers and victims of crime are treated equitably.
“This bill is wrong, disastrous and dangerous,” warned McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
“If passed in its current form, this bill will all but mandate the immediate pretrial release of drug-dealers, sex offenders and drunk drivers irrespective of their likelihood of reoffending, the danger they pose generally to the public, or their willingness to comply with conditions of their release.”
Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said the measure is too broad and, if it was ever implemented, he’d quit being a police officer immediately.
Kaitschuk claimed that ending qualified immunity would make police “civilly liable to siren-chasing trial lawyers.”
Lawmakers are due to vote on the bill before the lame duck session ends Jan. 13.