FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 2020
Contacts listed at end of release
Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition issues Safe Communities and Law Enforcement Modernization Strategy
SPRINGFIELD – A coalition representing Illinois law enforcement leadership and rank-and-file officers has issued a 15-point plan in a Safe Communities and Law Enforcement Modernization Strategy. The proposal is designed to build trust and stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) State Lodge, FOP Labor Council, FOP Chicago Lodge 7, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police have formed the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition and have been working on these strategies since summer to improve community safety and enhance the trust.
“The Coalition members all support modernization that would improve the criminal justice system for all Illinoisans and create a better trained law enforcement community,” said Illinois Association of Chiefs Executive Director Ed Wojcicki. “As law enforcement professionals, we want to take the leading role in modernizing policing and keeping our communities safe.”
The Coalition's Safe Community and Police Modernization Strategy for 2021 includes the following 15 points:
Voices of crime victims: Coalition members continue to be outspoken advocates for crime victims. Without the dedication, hard work and compassion of law enforcement professionals, most victims would never experience justice.
Co-responder model pilot projects: Having law enforcement access to a social worker or mental health professional would be very beneficial in specific incidents. There are many parts of the state where this is not only a financial issue, but also one of finding available social workers.
Mental health services: We support additional resources for mental health services and other resources that might provide an alternative to arrest, but these resources should not be used to reduce law enforcement funding. We also need more de-escalation and crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers to better handle these situations.
Funding for community resources: Provide adequate state funding for local agencies such as, but not limited to, local mental health and substance abuse providers, social workers, and county and municipal jails.
Recognize Illinois’ leadership in reforms: Here is a partial list of the training already required for Illinois officers on a regular basis: Use of force; civil rights; legal updates; cultural competency; procedural justice (voice, fairness, transparency, impartiality); human rights; sexual assault trauma-informed response.
Training and funding for training: Provide adequate state funding for all training requirements, including the academies, and for the additional costs incurred by agencies when other officers are taking the training.
Body cameras: We continue to support the use of body cameras, and we have recommended several major changes in state law that would eliminate burdensome impediments and costs that now cause many departments not to use them.
Get rid of bad cops: Strengthen Illinois policies and procedures regarding the dismissal and decertification of sworn officers, with appropriate due process. Expand the list of offenses that lead to automatic decertification and prohibit truly bad cops either in Illinois or from other states from job hopping from one department to the next.
Use of force reporting: The FBI has developed a national database for all local agencies to report use of force for officer-involved shootings, and we support mandating participation by all agencies in this database.
Reporting misconduct: We support developing use of force reporting forms to include when an officer actively points a weapon, actively points a taser, or goes hands on beyond normal handcuffing.
Collective bargaining: We support an expedited collective bargaining arbitration process. This would alleviate the issues that allow cases to drag on for a long time. Due process must be provided to law enforcement officers as it is to anyone.
Use of force standardized policy: A national consensus policy on the use of force from the International Association of Chiefs of Police has been used by many organizations and would provide a sound starting point in Illinois.
School Resource Officers: Many school districts in the state are adding School Resource Officers and believe in their value, in many cases because of the threat of an increase in school shootings. Any decision on maintaining School Resource Officers and funding them should remain at the local level.
Officer wellness and support: We continue to support efforts to promote officer wellness and have been actively working with the new suicide prevention task force.
Recruitment: Agencies continue to look for ways to develop staff that represent the diversity of the communities they serve. Local governments and community leaders must share the responsibility of recruiting diverse law enforcement agencies.
“Coalition members support law enforcement modernizations that will improve the criminal justice system for all Illinoisans. The Coalition is willing to work with anyone interested in solving the complex policy issues surrounding the modernization movement here in Illinois,” said FOP State Lodge President Chris Southwood. “At the same time, we will not violate two important basic principles: Law enforcement modernization can’t end up harming the safety of the public we serve, or the safety of the officers charged with protecting the public.”
In addition to the Coalition's 15-point plan, its members have identified six major areas of concern that appear to be at the top of the list in many police reform discussions.
Execution of Warrants: No-knock warrants are seldom granted now, but they are a necessary tool depending on the circumstances. Serving warrants is one of the most dangerous activities required of law enforcement professionals, because very often those being served resort to violence.
“Militarization”: Most of the “military equipment,” or surplus government equipment, being procured by departments is furniture and other office equipment. In addition, untrained citizens think they are seeing “tanks” when in fact it is heavy duty equipment and many of these tools are essential in saving lives and rescuing innocent civilians.
Sworn affidavits: We support the right of people to file a complaint against an officer, but we oppose eliminating the sworn affidavit that must accompany a complaint. There would be too many frivolous complaints and “revenge” complaints if this were eliminated, a situation that existed before the sworn affidavit law was created.
Qualified immunity: Many people and politicians mistakenly believe that qualified immunity makes it impossible to sue a police officer or department. That is absolutely not true. If it is not part of a total package that would include eliminating immunity for state’s attorneys, judges and state legislators, then it can be only be seen as a clear attack on law enforcement specifically.
Detainment and corrections: Detainees are now provided access to phone calls under state law. We already post this information in jails. We would continue to oppose expanding this “access to phone calls” for a variety of safety reasons.
Reform of bail system: Safeguards must be in place so that judges can determine whether a person under arrest is a threat to society and the likelihood that the person would actually show up in court. Also, too much focus on an arrested person’s rights reduces or eliminates the rights of victims and the legitimate fears that crime victims have about becoming the victims of crimes again.
“The Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition has been working on strategies to improve community safety and to enhance the trust and support of the community members we serve,” said Illinois Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk. “The Coalition members all support reforms that would improve the criminal justice system for all Illinoisans.”
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MEDIA CONTACTS FOR ILLINOIS LAW ENFORCEMENT COALITION:
Illinois Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk, (217) 415-9510
Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Ed Wojcicki (217) 414-7790
Illinois FOP Labor Council Executive Director Shawn Roselieb (708) 784-1010
Illinois FOP Chicago Lodge 7 President John Catanzara, Jr. (773) 497-4567