* Gov. Pritzker said this yesterday before signing the criminal justice reform bill into law…
He also took aim at opponents of the law, saying they “don’t want any change, don’t believe there is injustice in the system and are preying upon fear of change to lie and fear monger in defense of the status quo.”
Lots of fear-mongering out there, for sure.
* This is all over Facebook, apparently…
* I asked the governor’s office for a point by point response…
When the Governor, bill sponsors and advocates decry the misinformation from opponents who want to protect the status quo, this social media post is exactly what they are talking about. Misinformation can easily spread on social media, and those who oppose efforts to make our criminal justice system more equitable prey on fear and misinformation to keep a system in place that disproportionately harms black and brown communities around our state.
The SAFE-T Act (HB 3653), does not prevent police officers from using force against individuals who actively threaten people’s lives. If a person does not pose such a risk, the law requires that officers prioritize non-lethal methods, including de-escalation, citations, and non-lethal force, as appropriate and based upon the totality of the circumstances. This law is consistent with best practices for law enforcement and will improve public safety for both the community and our police officers. Through additional training and codifying these best practices, the law aims to end the fear and trauma black and brown communities deal with every day because of the systemic racism that is part of our criminal justice system.
In each of these scenarios, the description of how the police can respond under the new law blatantly ignores the options that continue to be available to police who are seeking to protect the safety of an individual or the community.
1. “Critical Situations: There is an Active Shooter at a local high school. Police arrive and the suspect flees the scene. Uniformed officers catch up to the suspect who is still armed, no longer actively shooting and forcibly resisting arrest. The officers know who the suspect is and he could be identified & apprehended at a later date. Officers cannot use force against the suspect even though he just shot people moments ago.”
• The SAFE-T Act does not prevent law enforcement from appropriately using force against a person who poses an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to another person or people. In order for an officer to use deadly force, the shooter must be an active threat. This bill does not change that requirement.
2. “Criminal Trespass: You arrive home and notice an unknown person sitting in your backyard. You call the police and wait for them to arrive. The police confront suspect and he refuses to leave. The individual cannot be arrested & no force can be used to make him leave, only a ticket can be issued.”
• This description of how police can respond under the new law ignores the clear provision in the law giving officers discretion to respond to individuals who pose a threat to the community or any person. Specifically, the SAFE-T Act amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to require that “a law enforcement officer shall issue a citation in lieu of custodial arrest . . . for those accused of traffic and Class B and Class C criminal misdemeanor offenses, or of petty and business offenses, who pose no obvious threat to the community or any person . . . .” Outside of these low-level offenses, officers retain discretion to arrest.
3. “Disorderly Conduct: You own a local store and an individual is causing trouble. The suspect is being loud and yelling obscenities at customers. Police arrive and realize he’s disturbing the peace of the store. The suspect will be issued a ticket, a court date within 21 days and officers will leave. The suspect cannot be forcibly removed & the store owner is left with the same problem.”
• Under the SAFE-T Act, police have the authority to cite instead of arrest for a breach of the peace violation, which is a Class C misdemeanor. However, police have discretion to arrest if the individual poses an obvious threat to the community or any person, or who has an obvious medical or mental health issues that poses a risk to their own safety.
4. “Obstructing: Police are investigating a homicide. A body is on the ground & the area is surrounded with crime scene tape. A person decides to enter the area after being told not to by a uniformed officer, walks through the crime scene and jeopardizes the investigation. This person would no longer be arrested for obstructing a police investigation & force cannot be used to remove the individual from the scene.”
• The SAFE-T Act does not prohibit an officer from making an arrest for the described offense.
…Adding… I checked in with sponsoring Sen. Elgie Sims to see if he had any differences with the governor’s responses and he said he did not. “Those are right on point.”
It should also probably be noted that the president of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association has bragged about never enforcing any pandemic mitigations in his home county.
* Coverage roundup…
* Pritzker hails newly signed criminal justice reform bill as ‘substantial step’ in erasing ‘systemic racism’
* Illinois Gov. Pritzker signs criminal justice reform bill
* Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs sweeping Illinois criminal justice overhaul, which will end cash bail starting in 2023
* Pritzker signs sweeping police reform, criminal justice bill, despite opposition from law enforcement
* Pritzker signs controversial criminal justice reform bill