Illinois Senate Republicans have introduced a package of legislation specifically designed to empower the law enforcement community today.
The “Fund the Police” Act legislation includes criminal justice changes that would help keep violent offenders off of the streets while providing the law enforcement community with additional resources. Among other bills introduced in the package, the “Fund the Police Act” would provide a major infusion of resources to criminal justice and mental health programs, via a $100 million state appropriation.
50th District State Senator Steve McClure says local law enforcement officials need more funds to assist in investigations: “First of all, to enhance evidence gathering, you have to have enough law enforcement in each of these communities to collect evidence and to stop crime and to fight crime. We have, ever since the January Criminal Law bill that was passed at 4:30 in the morning that nobody, including the sponsor of the bill had read…ever since its passing, we have seen a record number of people and police officers go to different states, a record number of sheriffs say they aren’t going to run again, and some police forces have disbanded in local communities. You cannot gather evidence if you don’t have enough people working the streets to gather evidence. That’s a major issue right now and that’s causing a lot of crime, because we don’t have enough law enforcement in these areas.”
The bill was introduced by Senator Chapin Rose of Champaign because of recent downstate gun violence. The legislation also includes multiple measures to reduce the trafficking of illegal guns, keep violent gun offenders off of the street, increase penalties for criminals who assault law enforcement officers, and help protect communities and schools.
McClure says the legislation takes aim at the recently passed crime bill passed during the Spring session by Democrats that eliminates pre-trial detention and the cash bail system for certain offenses: “Chapin talked about how difficult it is to prosecute cases, particularly gun cases, gang cases because witnesses fear for their lives in many cases. At 4:30 in the morning in January, in the Capitol, the Senate voted to no longer allow people to be held on pre-trial detention for committing the offense of witness intimidation. We are seeing near-record gang violence, near-record shootings and the most difficult cases to prosecute are shootings cases. Do you know why? Because they don’t want to testify. In this building, at almost the height of that, these people voted…my colleagues in the Senate voted to not allow for detainment of people in pre-trial for the offense of witness intimidation. That is insane and this has to end.”
Senate Republicans were joined by the widow of Champaign Police Officer Chris Oberheim in promoting the legislation. Oberheim was shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute at an apartment complex in Champaign back in May. Amber Oberheim says that police need more resources to assist them, especially in mental health and de-escalation training, as well as more officers to prevent further violence in the state. Rose says that the bills have been filed with enough time for the General Assembly to act during the current veto session.