ROCKFORD (WREX) — A new, controversial bill is set to come before Illinois lawmakers, which they could then vote on in the next five days. The bill includes major police reforms, and it's sparking controversy amongst our local officials.
Lawmakers are heading down to Springfield for the lame-duck session to finish up work on healthcare and more, but also on the agenda is that controversial bill, which could have long-standing impacts.
"It's necessary to empower our community," Democratic State Representative Maurice West says. "How else will we bring back trust [between] law enforcement and everyone."
On the other side of the aisle, Republican Senator Dave Syverson strongly disagrees.
"There's so many bad parts about this legislation that it will pretty much put law enforcement out of business in Illinois," Syverson explains.
It's dubbed House Bill 163 and it reads at a lengthy 611 pages long. Here are just some of the bill's reforms:
- New procedures for reporting in-custody deaths
- Mandated statewide use of force policy
- Eliminate qualified immunity for police officers
- Reduce officer's collective bargaining rights
- End cash bail
- Ensure disciplinary records of police officers are never erased
- Mandate crisis intervention training
- Scale back no-knock orders
The last three bullet points are portions of the bill that come from West.
"The majority of it is something, I would argue — why haven't we done this years ago?" West says.
But Syverson calls the bill "radical and costly."
"You're going to have a very difficult time finding anyone who wants to stay in law enforcement or any municipality being able to afford to have a police department," Syverson adds.
Syverson also questions the timing the of bill's vote, which comes to the legislature just days before the newly-elected lawmakers are seated. But West says this has been in the works for months.
"We've been working on this all summer, 30 plus hours," West says.
West calls any attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of the bill "fear-mongering," adding he's personally had conversations with law enforcement addressing the substance of the bill.
The police reform bill is on the House agenda, according to West, but that comes with a caveat. Per the Illinois House rules, Speaker Michael Madigan can decide to hold a bill if he wants, meaning that bill may, or may not, be voted on.
Syverson believes there will be a vote.
The bill needs 60 votes to pass out of the House, but whether it is even voted on, or, if it is, has the votes to pass, will be something that becomes more clear early next week.
If the bill does pass, the reforms would take effect immediately.
On Friday, we will continue covering this story when we sit down with more local leaders to discuss how this bill could specifically impact our region.