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Criticism mounts ahead of full implementation of Illinois 'anti-police bill,' which keep criminals and perverts on the streets

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Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Tuesday, after a weekend in which over 50 people were shot in Chicago, Republican candidate for Illinois governor Darren Bailey suggested that things in the state were about to get much worse.

Bailey, currently an Illinois state senator, held a press conference in Springfield with county sheriffs from around the state. He pointed out that the so-called SAFE-T ("Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today") Act, which largely goes into effect on January 1, 2023, has already proven counter-productive and in full force will exacerbate conditions in cities like Chicago, which Bailey has previously characterized as a "hellhole."

The SAFE-T Act, signed into law by Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker on January 22, 2021, abolishes cash bail, prevents police from detaining a suspect on the basis of a risk assessment, and gives felons sentenced to home detention far greater latitude.

Ed Wojcicki, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police executive director, called it an "anti-police bill."

While potentially making it easier for some criminals to stay out of jail, the law also imposes a host of restrictions and unprecedented requirements on police officers, including:

  • creating a statewide decertification process for officers;
  • enabling people to anonymously file complaints against officers;
  • enabling investigations into anonymously sourced complaints;
  • enabling complaint filings against officers without sworn affidavits or other legal documentation;
  • removing requirements that officers under investigation must be informed of either the name of the complainant or the person in charge of the investigation;
  • preventing police officers from reviewing body camera footage before writing a report about the incident;
  • requiring officers to intervene if other officers use unauthorized or excessive force; and
  • requiring that officers must issue a citation rather than arrest for traffic offenses, Class B and C criminal misdemeanor offenses, or petty and business offenses.

The state's attorneys for Vermilion County, Kendall County, Shelby County, and Madison County all argued in a March op-ed that this legislation poses "a serious threat to public safety — specifically, to victims and witnesses of violent crimes in our community." They argued that notwithstanding numerous amendments and changes made to the act, the end result still "contained various reactionary requirements inconsistent with long-standing and sound jurisprudence of our country and state."

The attorneys noted that one of the many problems created by the law will be that "violent offenders who are released on electronic monitoring and choose to violate the terms of their release have to be in violation for 48 hours before law enforcement can do anything about it." So, for instance, an abuser on electronic monitoring can hunt down the person he was initially charged for abusing before police can even respond to indicators that he has broken the terms of his house arrest.

Jamie Mosser, state's attorney for Kane County, noted that the language surrounding pretrial release "prevents Judges from holding an offender with multiple DUI's, drug dealers, and people who illegally possess or shoot guns when we can't identify a threat to a person or persons."

The Lake County News Sun reported that in order to detain persons charged with a crime before a trial, the state's attorney must file a petition to detain with the presiding judge. The judge would subsequently determine whether the person was a threat or a flight risk. With cash bail gone, if the judge decides a person is a risk of some sort, no amount of cash bond will free him. However, to Mosser's point, if a threat cannot be properly established, it is possible that violent offenders will be set free.

Springboard detentions and new strictures on police are not the bill's only perceived pitfalls. It will now be harder for police to arrests a variety of offenders.

According the ILACP, if a pervert was peeking into your bedroom window and you called the police, police would not ultimately be able to physically remove that person. They could only issue the person a citation.

In a media briefing held by a bipartisan group of Illinois state's attorneys on April 26, another state's attorney suggested that with the full implementation of the SAFE-T Act, "our hands will be tied. What sane citizen in this state of Illinois would want the state's attorney's hands tied, the police hands tied, [with] all the perks going to violent offenders?"

Will County state’s attorney Jim Glasgow said in July that the law's full implementation will result in "the end of days."

Illinois state Senator Darren Bailey has vowed to restore the death penalty ⁠— abolished by Illinois 11 years ago ⁠— for those who murder cops. Bailey, endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago and Illinois, also set himself up as the spoiler for the "Three Musketeers of crime, chaos, and tragedy," a trio he suggested was composed of Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and the George Soros-backed Kim Foxx, state's attorney for Cook County.

In addition to those members of law enforcement who are supporting Bailey, he suggested people across the state are similarly "fed up and they're ... going to rise up and make their voices known."

Pritzker spokesperson Natalie Edelstein accused Bailey of "fearmongering and playing footsie with insurrectionists."

Bailey suggested Illinoisans are already fearful and have every right to be. "Illinois violent crime has risen since JB took office and remains above the national average. Illinois has had more than 1,000 homicides in 2020, setting a multi-decade high. Chicago's murder count went up 60 percent since JB's first year in office."

The likelihood of becoming a victim of a violent crime is 1 in 103 in Lightfoot's Chicago and 1 in 239 in Illinois.

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