CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Ill. (WAND) -The signing of House Bill 3653 was met with push back from law enforcement on Monday.
House Bill 3653, or the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, was authored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and was approved by the Illinois General Assembly in January.
The measure will bring significant changes to things, like police training policies, police accountability, transparency in law enforcement and the rights of detainees and prisoners, according to Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr., who sponsored the bill.
However, law enforcement agencies from around the state of Illinois pushed back and claimed they had little to no input on the measure. The governor reported on Monday there was 9 public hearings and 30 hours of testimony and meetings with law enforcement, community members and advocates.
"I think everyone is seeing how testimony works on a Zoom meeting basis, there is not a dialog. You state certain information. If you have your hand up and get recognized you can comment on things, but that's not what those hearings were," explained Jim Kaitschuk of the Illinois Sheriffs' Association. "There was no specific pieces of legislation, there was no legislation that we saw until the amendment was introduced."
Among the changes the bill would bring are the elimination of monetary bail, a requirement that all police officers wear body cameras by 2025, a ban on all police chokeholds, new guidelines for "decertification" of police officers and an end to suspended licenses for failure to pay, among several other changes, according to NBC Chicago.
Kaitschuk said many in the law enforcement profession are frustrated.
"Those that say this isn't anti-police and it's going to make communities safer, I don't know how you can look at it that way," Kaitschuk said.
Among those in central Illinois, Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp expressed his concerns with HB 3653.
"It's bad for the public, it's bad for law enforcement and it's a sad day in Illinois," said Kettelkamp, who has been in law enforcement for over 40 years.
A major concern both Kettelkamp and Kaitschuk have with the Criminal Justice Reform Bill is the rights for officers and use of force. The law will require police to provide a predicate offense for resisting arrest, expand police training on use of force and prohibit chokeholds, to name a few measures.
"I really feel like we are in some serious jeopardy about how we do our job and how we can effectively protect people and the way that I read a lot of these provisions, particularly with use of force - citizens have more rights than I do as a police officer," Kaitschuk said.
Sheriff Kettelkamp agreed, and he also explained with added police training and being a rural law enforcement agency, he will need to work out certain logistics, like how they will get deputies to the expanded training.
"It's hard for rural areas (in) which we have very few number of officers. It's hard to get them trained and still provide the services for the public," he said. "We don't have the ability to have someone cover that shift while the other is being trained."
However, he also felt there are some items that will benefit law enforcement, like expanding the officer misconduct database.
"Am I in support for getting rid of bad officers? You betcha. I've had a couple of officers here I've had to let go because they did some things they were not right, but we let them go," Kettelkamp said.
The Law Enforcement Coalition released this statement on Monday:
"In signing this bill into law, Governor Pritzker chose to listen to a few strident political voices rather than the 120,000 petition signing citizens who plainly saw the bill for what it is. This new law is a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most. Because we are sworn to protect and serve the public, we sincerely hope that we will not be proven right about this new law, that it won't cause police officers to leave the profession in droves and handcuff those who remain so they can't stop crimes against people and property. Please don't let us measure its dismal failure by the shattered lives it produces. We urge all citizens to remember who supported this law, and keep that in mind the next time they look to the police in Illinois for the protection they can no longer provide."
In addition, both Sheriff Kettelkamp and Kaitschuk felt this measure will cause a major hit to the law enforcement profession when it comes to recruiting new officers. However, despite their frustrations, both say they will continue to serve the communities they swore to protect.