Gov. Pritzker signs police and criminal justice reform bill into law

Local law enforcement shows opposition toward bill
Gov. Pritzker signs police and criminal justice reform bill into law
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:55 PM CST
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EDWARDS CO., Ill. (WFIE) - On Monday, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a sweeping law enforcement and criminal justice reform bill into law.

The new law redefines the guidelines regarding use of force by an officer to be more restrictive, increases accountability and transparency in reporting and challenging use of force, allows for more de-escalation training, requires the use of body cameras by 2025 and ends cash bail.

The removal of cash bail makes Illinois the first state to eliminate the practice.

Its removal means that judges can no longer set a price to end detainment of a suspect before their case is heard.

Law enforcement in our Illinois counties expressed some opposition to the bill.

Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe said that he believes the law mostly addressed issues in Chicago.

”Whatever they do up there, that’s their business,” Boewe said. “Leave me alone. We don’t have those issues here. We haven’t had [them] to date.”

The sheriff said he doesn’t believe the police and criminal justice reform bill isn’t good for the state of Illinois.

”It’s going to put a burden on law enforcement across the state, little agencies like mine included,” he said.

One of the law’s functions is to mandate more de-escalation training for law enforcement, and limit use of force, which Boewe claimed is already consistent with how his officers handle people.

”We don’t beat the crap out of them! We try to control them,” he explained. “I’m a defensive tactics teacher, myself - I don’t teach chokeholds.”

Boewe also said that he doesn’t know if Edwards County can afford to adopt body cameras.

”This county can’t even afford to provide health insurance for me or any of its employees,” he said.

The law’s sponsors have said they aim to increase accountability for officers who use force to prevent abuses of power.

Boewe says he worries how that accountability could affect future officers.

”They’ll be indoctrinated with these things at the academy, and I’m afraid they’re going to pull up on a scene and it may be a deadly force scene, and they’re going to hesitate because they’re going to be wondering, ‘Am I going to go to prison if I pull my gun here.’”

Boewe stressed that his main concern was for the safety of his deputies and his citizens.

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