As Illinois continues to deal with the fallout of a police reform bill passed earlier this year, the state legislature is looking for ways to help police maintain staffing levels needed to keep communities safe. Illinois State Rep. Thomas Bennett introduced HB 3643 in February, not long after Gov. JB Pritzker signed the police reform bill. Bennett opposed the police reform legislation and sees his bill to boost police recruitment as one way to help police who are hurt by its restrictions.
Police Recruitment Division
If passed, the bill to boost police recruitment would amend the Illinois Police Training Act to create a Recruitment Division within the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board and establish a “Back the Badge” program to hire and retain sworn officers across the state. The program would focus on hiring officers that were representative of the communities they serve and in line with law enforcement priorities.
Police officers across the state are retiring and leaving the force in record numbers following the passage of the criminal justice reform bill and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on day-to-day duties. This combination creates a situation where police forces are not able to meet the minimum staffing requirements needed to perform essential duties, or resort to hiring potentially unqualified candidates to fill open positions.
“There’s some ongoing issues in law enforcement, some stuff that needs to be rectified and corrected,” Taylorville Police Sgt. Alan Mills told the state’s News Channel 20. “You want to get candidates who you believe can be good law enforcement officers and you also want to look to bring some diversity to law enforcement agencies, too.”
Statewide Police Shortages in Illinois
Some offices have already resorted to previously unheard-of measures to recruit staff. The Peoria County Sheriff’s Office is offering signing bonuses of up to $10,000.
Chicago is also facing police shortages. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that 560 officers retired in 2020 — about 15% more than the previous year.
“It’s serious,” said Michael Lappe, vice president of the board of trustees for the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, told the Sun-Times. “A lot of these people aren’t retiring. They’re quitting.”
HB3643 is part of a larger effort called Reimagine Illinois, which also looks at ending the state’s culture of corruption, balancing budgets, and creating job opportunities across the state. For more information on National Police Support Fund’s mission to support police in Illinois, visit our Police Issues Action Center.
Image Credit: Photo by Andrew Donovan Valdivia on Unsplash
Indiana lawmakers showed that it’s possible to pass common-sense bipartisan police reform that holds law enforcement accountable while also understanding the important role police play in our communities. The measure earned widespread support from Republicans and Democrats in the state’s House and Senate.