* There appears to be a real need for this program…
State lawmakers are considering legislation that encourages witnesses to cooperate more with police. The bill that already passed the House would provide more funding to protect, and in some cases, relocate witnesses of gang-related crimes. […]
Law enforcement officials say their investigations are often hampered by witnesses who are reluctant to testify. Yet some programs designed to coax them into working with prosecutors can barely keep up with demand.
“I could double the staff and keep everybody busy all the time,” said Lori Smith, head of Cook County’s victim witness assistance unit. “Every year funding shrinks and we are always subject to what’s going to happen with the county budget.”
Smith said last year the unit had 52 employees handling about 13,000 cases. […]
A similar witness protection program was launched in 1996 and administered by the Illinois State Police. The state appropriated $666,000 for the Gang Crime Witness Protection pilot program, but two years later the program was eliminated due to lack of funding.
No doubt, this is a good idea.
But the actual bill doesn’t “provide more funding.” It merely creates a new fund and specifies how the cash will be distributed, if there ever is any cash.
Unless and until there’s an official appropriation, or unless the controlling agency somehow finds some grant money, this bill means nothing. It’s just a well intentioned feel-good measure, which is why it passed unanimously.