Wednesday, August 12, 2015 10:58 AM
SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th), State Representative Elgie Sims (D-Chicago 34th) and Rep. John Anthony (R-Morris) were pleased to announce today that a landmark law enforcement reform package they negotiated has become law. The groundbreaking, bipartisan measure includes standards for the use of officer-worn body cameras and makes Illinois one of the first states to codify recommendations issued this year by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
“In a political climate not known for its abundance of bipartisan cooperation, we nevertheless built strong support on both sides of the aisle and from the governor for a package of reforms that demonstrate a serious commitment to restoring trust between law enforcement and communities,” said Raoul, who has worked since last year on body camera standards and other reforms. “This pioneering law is a response to recent officer-involved deaths but also a public acknowledgement that communities are only truly safe for all their residents when police and the people they serve can trust one another. We know there is much progress to be made on that front, and that was the impetus for the changes enacted today.”
“Police encounters gone tragically wrong in Ferguson, New York City, Baltimore and elsewhere forced the nation to confront uncomfortable realities about race and policing in America, and here in Illinois, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle felt compelled to take action to address the disparities and restore trust,” Sims said. “Independent investigations, better training and better record-keeping will foster an atmosphere of seriousness about tackling racial disparities in law enforcement and zero tolerance of police misconduct.”
“It was a privilege to work with law enforcement as well as community groups to negotiate this trailblazing piece of legislation,” Anthony said. “Most law enforcement officers have a genuine desire to serve and protect all residents of their communities fairly, and they welcome tools, such as body cameras and the officer misconduct database, that can help them do their jobs more effectively.”
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.
SB 1304 also creates a competitive grant program for departments to obtain money toward purchasing the cameras. The grants, as well as the legislation’s additional training requirements, will be funded by a $5 increase in fines for traffic violations.
Listen to audio from Sen. Raoul's press conference below. Our fact sheet on SB 1304 is here.
PHOTO: Rep. Sims, Sen. Raoul, Sean Smoot of Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association and Rep. Anthony