Governor Pritzker Ignored The People, Credible Leaders When He Signed the Police Reform Bill Into Law

NPSF - Op Ed Simon Lewis

On February 22nd, 2021, Governor Pritzer signed into law HB 3653, which covers a large array of police and criminal justice reform measures from eliminating cash bail to a ban on all police chokeholds as well as new guidelines for “decertification” of police officers, among other changes. 

This Police Reform Bill is a sledgehammer when a light touch was needed. We fully believe in progress, transparency, and providing more resources and training to our police officers so they can be safe and effective on the streets. Instead this bill was a tornado that ripped through many of the safety measures in place for police and communities alike. Progressive politicians decided to throw everything they could think of into this bill without taking a step back and thinking through the long term ramifications. 

The Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy was correct when he said that this new law “is willfully undermining public safety – endangering citizens, emboldening criminals, and making Illinois less safe for families… With the ending of cash bail, HB 3653 mandates the immediate release of persons arrested for burglary, arson, and kidnapping onto our streets while they await trial, The bill legalizes resistance to arrest in many cases and allows anonymous complaints to end a police officer’s career.”

These new standards will endanger police officers and citizens of Illinois. The new systems in place will be abused by criminals and citizens with anti-cop beliefs. The anonymous complaints that will be allowed on officers will be weaponized without a doubt. Careers and lives can and will be ruined by this new system. Progressive politicians claim to want transparency, but apparently that only goes one way, and citizens do not have to be bound by any similar transparency and accountability. 

Not only did police unions and other associations oppose and condemn this bill before it came into law, a survey found that most Illinois citizens also don’t approve of these new measures. The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and “Odgen & Fry” conducted the study, and found a majority of registered voters in the state opposed the bill. 66% of the total participants of the study did not support the filing of anonymous complaints against police officers. Nearly 54% did not support the changes to cash bail.;

It is clear that this bill was not widely supported and the issues surrounding the proposed changes are well known. Governor Pritzker should be reminded that his elected position is as a means to serve the citizens of Illinois. By signing this controversial- and frankly unpopular- bill into law, he is signifying that the will of the people is inconsequential. 

Bill HB 3653 can still prove useful as a case study to other states for what not to do, and a lesson to the state of Illinois and her citizens. We hope elected officials in other states see the unpopular opinion and negative aftermath of these new measures and opt for collaboration with police associations and its citizens to create widely supported police reform that actually improves police efficacy and safety in communities.

The Illinois Senate passed a sweeping and highly controversial police and criminal justice reform bill. This new police reform bill will only increase the number of officers quitting and retiring, will kill morale within the officers that do stay, and will wreak havoc on communities throughout Illinois.

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