* From Chicago Tonight…
Q: There are claims that the bill prevents police officers from forcibly removing a trespasser from one’s property. … Is that claim true or false?
Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis): Well, I think it’s at least partially true, if not completely true. That relates to a trespasser on property, not inside the residence, but on property. And it says that that person is not subject to arrest unless they are presenting a risk of the safety of an individual or the community. So if an individual is simply on property without authorization or trespass. The police are simply to cite and then leave. […]
Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell: I think that Representative Windhorst is right that part of that legislation says that law enforcement should not arrest for the lowest level offenses. But the next line gives law enforcement the sole authority to make that decision. And it’s also important to note that that piece of legislation was actually taken from recommendations from a group of states attorneys, court system actors and prosecutors in a report that was released in April 2020. So that gives law enforcement the flexibility to actually make that decision themselves.
* This is from the April 2020 Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices Final Report, mentioned by Mitchell, on the trespassing language…
Law enforcement shall issue a citation in lieu of custodial arrest, upon proper identification, for those accused of Class B and C traffic and criminal misdemeanor offenses, or of petty and business offenses, who pose no obvious threat to the community or any person, or who have no obvious medical or mental health issues that pose a risk to their own safety. Those released on citation shall be scheduled into court within 21 days. Subsequent court reminder notification shall be provided via mail, electronically, text or telephone.
What ended up in the statute…
(a-1) Law enforcement shall issue a citation in lieu of custodial arrest, upon proper identification, for those accused of traffic and Class B and C criminal misdemeanor offenses, or of petty and business offenses, who pose no obvious threat to the community or any person, or who have no obvious medical or mental health issues that pose a risk to 25 their own safety. Those released on citation shall be scheduled in to court within 21 days.
Mitchell says the statute gives law enforcement officers discretion to interpret what an “obvious threat” is. Somebody camped out on a person’s porch and won’t leave after being ordered to by the police could easily be declared a threat, in other words.
But even Democrats have told me they are looking for ways to tighten up the language in the fall veto session. We’ll see.
* As an example, Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) was on WGN Radio yesterday and said this about the SAFE-T Act…
Whatever we have to change we will change. I want to again say that we have committed to making sure that this will make Illinois safe and also furthers justice in this state. We’ve got to get it right and it will take some tweaking over time. We’ve already tweaked some, we’ll continue to do that where it’s necessary.
* Anyway, back to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices Final Report on this topic…
Arrest is an essential and integral function of effective policing. However, the practice is far more intrusive to individual freedom, subjecting a person to potential pretrial detention or unnecessary conditions of pretrial release. Citation in lieu of arrest authorizes law enforcement to release a subject, in appropriate non-violent cases, with a date to appear in court, rather than being subjected to formalized arrest and booking procedures.
The American Bar Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police foster a policy favoring issuance of citations. “It should be the policy of every law enforcement agency to issue citations in lieu of arrest or continued custody to the maximum extent consistent with the effective enforcement of the law.” Nationwide, law enforcement departments utilize some form of citation in lieu of arrest. Approximately 87% of police agencies participate in this form of policing with 80% of these jurisdictions having ten (10) years or more experience using this arrest alternative.
Republican Sen. John Curran and Republican Rep. Dan Ugaste were on that commission, as was a representative of the Illinois Association Chiefs of Police and former US Attorney Rodger Heaton.
* I asked Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office for comment…
Under the SAFE-T Act, law enforcement officers can continue to use their judgement to arrest a person that is a threat to the community.
The statute clearly states, “law enforcement shall issue a citation in lieu of custodial arrest, upon proper identification, for those accused of traffic and Class B and C criminal misdemeanor offenses, or of petty and business offenses, who pose no obvious threat to the community or any person, or who have no obvious medical or mental health issues that pose a risk to their own safety.”
If the law enforcement community needs more clarity regarding their ability to arrest people who are posing a threat to other people or themselves then our administration is happy to work with them and lawmakers to make that even more clear.
* The reason I asked for some clarification is because the trespassing issue has become a hot topic of discussion. Sen. Darren Bailey said this on Dan Proft’s WIND show last week…
The simple offense of trespassing in your house, on your yard, in your business. The law enforcement can only stand there, by this SAFE-T Act and write a warning. That’s all that they can do. They cannot forcefully remove these people. So we’ve got a pretty dire situation on our hands
*** UPDATE *** With thanks to a commenter, this was issued last month by the Illinois Supreme Court Implementation Task Force…
Law enforcement do have discretion to remove the person from the location of the alleged criminal activity, and then cite and release the person from another location.
So, all the people claiming that people can just camp out on somebody’s lawn, or move in to somebody else’s shed or cause a disturbance in a restaurant or whatever are wrong, according to the Supreme Court’s own implementation commission.
And if they go back? Well, they could easily be judged a threat at that point and arrested on the spot.
My problem with all this, however, is that proponents just don’t have the skills to point to simple things like this.