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Controversy builds over police reform bill

Police Reform Bill Handcuff background Web Pic

ROCKFORD (WREX) — As the deadline for IL House lawmakers to vote on sweeping police reforms neared, local lawn enforcement held a news conference hoping to stop it from passing.

"This bill does not keep our community safe, it doesn't allow law enforcement to be safe and it doesn't allow us to prosper," said Ogle County Sheriff Brain VanVickle.

VanVickle was joined by leaders and law enforcement from Winnebago County and Loves Park.

The bill would eliminate cash bail, require body cameras for all departments and prevent police misconduct records from being destroyed.

"This is an attack on the community. This is an attack on victims of crime. Because what this does is it handcuffs it bound our hands to be able to go out and do our jobs," said Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.

"This is not an attack on our community this is not an attack on victims," countered Rep. Maurice West who supports the bill.

"This is empowering our community, empowering our victims, empowering our law enforcement all on the same playing field."

West took to Facebook live after the news conference saying there was misinformation swirling about the bill. One thing he says isn't true is that the bill is being rushed through and that lawmakers didn't consult law enforcement.

"We've been working on this with sheriff's associations, with law enforcement associations since the killing of George Floyd.

"It's not like we're trying to force this down people's throats. I mentioned this back in August what we were doing," said West.

"You can't say that because you don't like something you need more time," said K Edward Copeland, a pastor with New Zion Baptist Church.

Copeland said he also supports the bill because it creates an even playing field.

"Accountability is the issue. That's why people were marching all last year including myself. White, black and brown. People were marching because of the lack of accountability for police misconduct, particularly against black and brown bodies. And this bill helps to address that," said Copeland.

Caruana said no one is against police reform and all law enforcement want to do the right thing.

If the House passes the bill, it is then up to the Senate on whether it heads to the governor's desk to become law.

Kristin Crowley

Evening News Anchor
Kristin Crowley anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news. She is also a reporter for 13 Investigates. She brings more than a decade of experience to the newsroom. Her work at WREX has earned her multiple awards including a regional Edward R. Murrow for Investigative Journalism and three regional Emmys.

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