Comprehensive law enforcement measure signed into law

Earlier this year, Illinois Legislative Black Caucus member’s Representative Elgie Simms and Senator Kwame Raoul led the way for comprehensive law enforcement reforms aimed at ensuring accountability and safety for officers. The recent string of officer-involved deaths prompted legislators to draft Senate Bill 1304, which makes provisions for body cameras, independent investigators in officer-related deaths, special prosecutors and cultural competency training.

Earlier this year, members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus called on Governor Rauner to sign this pivotal piece of legislation, and today the measure was signed into law.

“Quickly, yet carefully, we crafted a package of reforms that demonstrate a serious commitment to restoring trust between law enforcement and communities,” Raoul said. “The steps we have taken are a response to recent tragic officer-involved deaths, but also a public acknowledgement that communities are only truly safe for all their residents when police and the people they serve can trust one another.”

Illinois is the first state in the nation to pass a comprehensive package of recommendations put forth by President Barack Obama’s police task force.

“Mandating independent investigations in officer-related deaths will provide an impartial analysis of cases, giving members of the public greater confidence that justice will be served,” said Sims, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 1304 implements numerous recommendations of the federal task force by:

  • Requiring independent investigation of all officer-involved deaths
  • Improving mandatory officer training in areas such as the proper use of force, cultural competency, recognizing implicit bias, interacting with people with disabilities and assisting victims of sexual assault
  • Creating a statewide database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during misconduct investigations
  • Improving data collection and reporting of officer-involved and arrest-related deaths and other serious incidents
  • Establishing a commission on police professionalism to make further recommendations on the training and certification of law enforcement officers.

The legislation also prohibits the use of choke holds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical study, which provides insights into racial disparities in vehicular stops and searches, to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk”.

“These reforms minimize instances of police brutality without criminalizing police,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, chairman of the joint Black Caucus. “We need to keep officers and the public accountable.”

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