Recent Push for Police Reform is Fraught with Peril, Undermines Local Law Enforcement

The end of the 101st General Assembly was a whirlwind of activity. After months of being pushed aside by a Governor who would rather rule on his own, we came back into session to find Speaker Michael Madigan being pushed aside as well. Representative Emanuel Welch was elected Speaker and he, along with his allies, brought forward several pieces of legislation that we feel will deeply harm the people of Illinois. It consists of radical language that will affect education, healthcare, businesses, and law enforcement. Namely, this came in the form of HB3653, a police reform bill that does little except make Illinois less safe for all its citizens.

Do not misunderstand; occasional police reforms are a necessity. As crime evolves, so must police. Tactic and training must change with the rest of the world. The issue is that HB3653 does little by way of improving the lives of officers and civilians. The language makes it harder for police to do their job while endangering their communities.

This bill’s language calls for several drastic changes. It ends cash bail, preventing judges from holding potentially violent persons. The bill introduces several new unfunded mandates on law enforcement agencies. Chiefly, it requires police departments to purchase body cameras while provides no funding to assist, a cost which small departments will struggle to meet. Also, HB3653 begins the process for ending qualified immunity by opening the door for frivolous lawsuits against officers and severely hampering the ability to hire and retain officers. Finally, it limits an officer’s ability to use necessary force on a suspect. This increases the risk to the officer’s life and potentially others around them. The list is not all-encompassing. There are more wrinkles hidden within the language of HB3653.

This is a bad bill and we Republicans did not lack effort in trying to bring these concerns to light. In fact, with proper discussion and debate, there may be common ground to be found. Instead, the Democrats stifled any questions and prevented any discussion as best they could. This is the opposite of how state government should run. All 118 of us are there to work together for the people of Illinois. Instead, we once again met an all too familiar situation of the Democrat party only looking out for themselves. Not their constituents and certainly not us. We must call on Governor Pritzker to veto this legislation and urge our Democrat colleagues to come to the table for proper discussion and work for all the people in Illinois.

Chris Miller (R-Robinson) represents the 110th District in the Illinois House of Representatives.