Illinois Police Reform Bill 2021: The start of a dangerous trend for police?

In the middle of the night on January 13, 2021, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that will significantly alter the way police and other law enforcement officers operate in the state, despite strong objections from both police and citizens. HB 3653 passed both the state House and Senate in just a few hours — before lawmakers could debate it, or even finish reading the whole thing.

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State Sen. John Curran told CBS 2 Chicago that his office received more than 500 calls opposing the amendment since it was introduced in the legislature, particularly around a provision that will remove cash bail from the state. 

“This bill will prevent their detainment, and they will be out amongst the community in a further threat to public safety,” Curran said.

The law also makes police body cameras mandatory and allows for anyone to file an anonymous complaint against police officers — both of which could create a chilling effect for law enforcement officers who are doing their best to keep people safe.

HB 3653 also received pushback from the law enforcement organizations across the state, including the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition and Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7.

“It ties the hands of police officers while pursuing suspects and making arrests and allows criminals to run free without bail,” the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition said in a statement. “In the dark of night, Illinois legislators made Illinois less safe.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill in February, setting the stage for more drastic reforms like this to sweep the country. Most provisions go into effect on July 1, and cash bail is expected to be fully eliminated by January 2023.

Learn more about what’s happening in Illinois and how you can join the fight to support police in our latest video.

06/17/2021 UPDATE: Illinois Legislature Addresses Police Concerns in Follow-Up Bill

Image Credit: Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

Back in 2013, before Black Lives Matter fueled an anti-police movement across the country, the city of Camden, New Jersey, opted to defund the police and start from scratch. There are many lessons to be learned from this case study, including how police reform can work, but defunding alone is not a solution

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