The physical and mental health of first responders now has greater protections in Illinois.
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a package of legislation today aimed at advancing safety and mental health resources in Illinois. Pritzker was joined by a host of legislative and administration leaders, as well as Lauren Frank, wife of State Trooper Brian Frank who remains in critical condition following a Scott’s Law violation on I-55 in February.
Pritzker says Scott’s Law is being strengthened by the new legislation. “As a result of these new laws, starting January first, courts have an enhanced menu of options for holding Scott’s Law violators accountable. Adding community service as an additional consequence for those whose recklessness endangers police officers, firefighters, tow truck drivers, EMS professionals, all of those whose livelihoods take them to the sides of our roadways across the state.”
Senate Bill 1913 allowing the courts to order community services in addition to other penalties, and House Bill 3656 which further clarifies a driver’s duty for how to respond to an emergency scene on the road, both go into effect on January 1st.
Pritzker says with Senate Bill 1575, the state is taking another step in putting mental health front and center when it comes to supporting first responders.
“Too often discussions and resources surrounding mental illness are discouraged or stigmatized. So the Department of Human Services will be creating an online database and resource center dedicated to mental health tools specific to emergency response professionals. We want our first responders and their loved ones to know the signs, to know what they need, and most importantly how to get help.”
According to the announcement, the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health will lead the effort to build the resource, with a target launch date of January 2022. The law takes effect immediately.
Among those gathered for the signing today were Republicans 50th District State Senator Steve McClure and 99th State Representative Mike Murphy, whose support of the package was recognized by Pritzker.
“All of these new laws had unanimous, bipartisan support in the General Assembly. Because in Illinois, the safety and support of our first responders is an issue around which responsible leaders come together.”
Brendan Kelly, Director of the Illinois State Police said “words of encouragement and support are appreciated but words are not enough. Actions, large or small, are what count” Kelley says he believes the Governor and legislative sponsors understand that in the passage of these bills.