Monday, January 11, 2021

Our Police Are Under Attack--Please Act Right Now to Stop This Legislation

Opinion
By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Since I co-founded the Southwest Chicago Post in 2012, this online
neighborhood news service has been a consistent and solid supporter of law enforcement--just like the large majority of men and women here on the Southwest Side are supporters of law enforcement and safe neighborhoods.

With that in mind, I want to add the SWCP's voice in sounding the alarm about legislation currently before the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation, in my opinion, is dangerous and is a direct threat to law enforcement agencies across the state--including and perhaps especially the Chicago Police Department. And as such, it is an indirect threat to the well-being of law abiding men and women everywhere in this state--including and perhaps especially Chicago.

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police recently posted this about the legislation:

Stop HB163 SA2, HB3653 SA1, HB 841 & Associated Defund the Police Legislation

The Illinois General Assembly filed a bill that eliminates law enforcement as we know it from every community in the state.

Senate Amendment number one to House Bill HB 3653 SA1 radically changes law enforcement, victim services, criminal proceedings and the protections of every law enforcement officer in the State, regardless of employment as a peace officer, deputy, trooper, university police officer, corrections officer, court security officer or other law enforcement. This information was drawn up without even considering the input of the actual police.

HB 3653 SA1 & Associated Defund the Police Legislation eliminates all protections from law enforcement officers. It eliminates officer’s ability to pursue their job without civil liability, it eliminates the ability of officers to pursue collective bargaining agreements, it invalidates the constitutionally protected due process of officers and it substantially increases the costs for employers of law enforcement officers. Specifically, HB 3653 SA1 does the following:

• Eliminates Qualified Immunity for police officers, making them civilly liable to siren chasing trial lawyers.

• Eliminates Officer’s rights to Collectively Bargain, creating a “special class” of public employee who does not have these rights in Illinois.

• Eliminates impartial arbitration over burdensome residency requirements.

• Allows for unrestricted and ungoverned disciplinary policies of law enforcement officers.

• Prohibits departments from taking advantage of cost saving federal surplus programs.

• Allows officers to be punished or fired based on anonymous and unsubstantiated or unverifiable complaints.

• Mandates that those unsubstantiated and unverified complaints be kept to be used against officers forever, with no destruction and no limits on how they can be utilized to inflict harm on officers.

• Substantially increases both initial and ongoing education requirements with no money to pay for the increased costs and no assurances that the courses will even be offered.

• Mandates the use of body cameras by all departments for every officer with no money to pay for the cost of those cameras.

• Defunds any department that does not comply 100% with the draconian requirements of the legislation.

• Eliminates funding for law enforcement agencies.

• Eliminates Cash Bail.

• Enacts multiple benefits for felons.

• Prohibits use of force in almost all situations, and makes officers criminally liable for virtually any use of force.

• Removes prohibitions against obstructing police officers.

• Charges officers with Official Misconduct, a class 3 felony, for banal and incidental issues.

The fight over this bill is a fight to save law enforcement. If this bill passes, it might as well be a crime to be a law enforcement officer in Illinois. Help us contact your Senator and Representative to implore that they do not hand this state over to the felons while criminalizing the policing profession.

To sign the Illinois FOP's petition, click this link and add your voice: https://www.ilfop.org/stop-bill-hb-163/


That's what the Illinois FOP said. Chicago's FOP added to it by saying:

House Bill 841 (Police Licensing) was introduced, and we saw the final version of the bill for the first time on Friday night. As introduced, the bill paints officers in a really bad public light for unfounded reasons.

[HB 841] was dumped on top of the other so-called ‘reform’ bill (HB 163-SFA2) that was introduced earlier in the week…the significant concerns we raised were not addressed. There is even now a movement afoot to add even more egregious provisions to these existing bills, including the decriminalization of such things as heroin and Fentanyl.

It is dangerous to try to ram these bills through on short notice in the lame duck session. We continue to be ready to discuss police modernization legislation, but it is imperative that such legislation be fully vetted when there is more time to do so in the spring legislative session. As we advised earlier, the General Assembly has until Jan. 13 to pass this legislation before the next duly elected General Assembly takes office. Please continue to contact your legislators and inform them of your opposition to this bill.

The Chicago FOP also said that HB163 will lead to mass retirement of police, especially in the city:

“[In Chicago], we have over 2,500 officers with 20 years on and over the age of 50. We have over 3,000 with their 20 years in, regardless of age. Most will leave, and this city will be more dangerous than ever before. Crime will skyrocket, and that will drive out the citizens in record numbers. It will lead to a bankrupt state of Illinois. This state has never been closer to the tipping point.”

The proposed laws have aroused concern among at least two of the Southwest Side’s leading crime fighting groups.

“We support our police, and this legislation has to fail,” said Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo. “We have a lot of police that live in our community, and that bill—if enacted--will send a message that criminals can do what they want and get away with anything. It will essentially strip police of their powers and make police question why they should do the job any more.”
   
Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch President Jason Huff said he thinks the new measures, “including giving criminals no-cash bail, restricting use of force in most incidents, and not penalizing people for obstructing officers will further embolden these criminals to cause havoc. 
  
“I believe officers are entitled to bargain for their contracts, and I support the residency rule currently in place in the city. Also, annual training to deal with individuals with mental, emotional and other traumatic illnesses would be beneficial. Body cameras for all will protect and give better accountability to both the officer and citizen during any stop or use of force. These are common sense.

“The other suggestions in this bill would seem to cause officers to not be proactive. Eliminating immunity and being able to be sued legally for following policy and procedures that you where trained on and are using during work is insane. Finally, I have no problem with police receiving complaints like any other municipal employee, but they need to be reviewed and not held on their record if found to be untrue or unsubstantiated.”

West Elsdon resident Sam DiVicenzo, a retired police officer, said the legislation “will only make a bad situation worse in Chicago. Police won’t stick out their necks if they think no one has their backs. We saw that under [Mayor] Rahm [Emanuel] when so many police officers went fetal and stopped assertively policing—just going through the motions and getting through their shifts while criminals ran amok. With this new legislation, police may go from fetal to comatose.”

Supporters of the legislation claim it is merely an attempt to make police better and more professional.

But is it? In my opinion, this is clearly anti-cop legislation that needs to be voted down now.

I've already signed the Illinois FOP's petition, and I will follow up by contacting my local state senator and state representative. I hope you do, as well.


No comments:

Post a Comment