By Barton Lorimor Email | @bartonlorimor
* From a press release…
Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 1304 today to create the Police and Community Improvement Act.
“Today we are taking steps to strengthen the relationship between our law enforcement officers and the public they protect with the Police and Community Improvement Act,” Governor Rauner said. “As a society, we must ensure the safety of both the public and law enforcement. SB 1304 establishes new and important guidelines and training for police departments and their officers, while protecting the public by prohibiting officers from using excessive force. I thank the legislators who sponsored this bill. It will have a lasting and positive impact on the people of Illinois.”
Additional Background: Illinois is the first state in the country to pass comprehensive legislation that include procedures for police departments that utilize body cameras; establish reporting requirements for officers who make stops or arrests; crisis intervention and racial sensitivity training; and prohibits excessive force like choke holds.
A detailed description courtesy of Sen. Raoul’s office…
Senate Bill 1304 implements numerous recommendations of the federal task force by
· - Requiring independent investigations 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 persons 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 licensing 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” or temporarily detain for questioning. Finally, it codifies rules concerning the appointment of special prosecutors.
The new law does not require law enforcement agencies to deploy officer-worn body cameras, but if they choose to do so, they must adhere to the following standards:
· - The cameras must be turned on at all times when an officer is responding to a call for service or engaged in law enforcement activities.
· - The cameras can be turned off at the request of a crime victim or witness, or when an officer is talking with a confidential informant.
· - Recordings are exempt from FOIA with some exceptions:
· Recordings can be “flagged” if they have evidentiary value in relation to a use of force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.
· “Flagged” recordings may be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; however, in certain sensitive situations, such as a recording of a sexual assault, victim consent is required prior to disclosure.
· - Recordings must be retained for 90 days or, if “flagged,” for two years or until final disposition of the case in which the recording is being used as evidence.
As for the bill’s passage…
“Police unions in this state stepped up to the plate and really led in a lot of the discussions involving the elements that were involved in this bill,” said Sean Smoot, Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association legal counsel and who also served on the White House task force on community policing. “I think that says a lot about our state and about our police officers and the people they put into position of leadership.”