A police reform bill that has been discussed at the lame duck session taking place in Springfield has both sides of the aisle weighing the pros and cons of it. Advocates for the bill say that police brutality has gotten out of control and there are not enough checks and balances on law enforcement. House Bill 163 would amend the acceptable forms of force by officers, banning chokeholds and restraints that can restrict breathing as well as severely limiting the situations where deadly force is authorized. The bill would also enforce body cameras on every police officer. Senator Kimberly Lightford says that they support police officers but something has to change.
Senator Elgie Sims says that nothing has been done for too long and there needs to be change to the way that policing is done.
Those against the bill say that the bill prohibits pre-trial detention when an offender poses a danger to the community at large, will significantly limit offenders being detained which will pose a risk to victims, witnesses, and the community, impedes any law enforcement investigation, severely limits accountability for accomplices to murder by amending the felony murder rule, and removes all due process protections for police officers. Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police President Chief James Black says that this bill will strip police of legal protections.
Senator John Curran says that the bill implies that the police are the enemy of the state. “Quite simply, this legislation, if adopted, is just as bad as ‘Defunding the Police’ and will make our communities less safe and make us all more vulnerable to criminal acts.”
Many representatives feel the bill is being rushed. There is also no monetary support for police forces to get body cameras for all their officers, something that Chief James Black says is impossible to due in this time of COVID-19. The “lame duck” session runs until January 13th. The amendment for the bill is nearly 600 pages long. To view the full amendment click here.