SPRINGFIELD – Citing the urgent need for swift action to stem the ongoing spike in violent crime across the state, the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus unveiled an updated legislative package Feb. 1 targeting violent crime and offering a critical lifeline to law enforcement efforts.
“There is no excuse to go another single day without addressing the crime wave that is wreaking havoc on our state. While our package won’t eliminate crime completely, it would get us on a good path toward safer neighborhoods,” said Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods).
Caucus members held a press conference to announce their new legislative initiatives in the Capitol Rotunda in front of a police remembrance wall, which is dedicated to honoring fallen police officers from the past year. This comes three months after the Caucus members first held a press conference pleading for help from across the aisle to address crime.
“We were here in October to offer reasonable proposals to help reduce crime, but the Democrats who control Springfield have refused to act in the months since then,” said State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). “We’re here again, demanding the Democrats take action to protect the people of Illinois from the violence on our streets.”
The legislative package includes a “Fund the Police Grant Act,” which would provide targeted grants to assist law enforcement, provide additional training, and purchase much-needed equipment, including body cameras. The Senators called for greater support for the men and women tasked with protecting communities across the state, noting that police officers and sheriffs were leaving the law-enforcement profession in unprecedented numbers. In many cases, officers leaving the profession have indicated that it was, in large part, due to provisions of the so-called “SAFE-T Act,” an anti-police package rammed through by a partisan vote in the late-night hours of a lame-duck session in January 2021.
State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says she stands with local law enforcement officials who continue to express serious concerns about many of the anti-police provisions in the SAFE-T Act. She says she opposed the new law because it was rushed through the legislative process last year, and law enforcement officials and members of the public were not allowed much input.
“Even before it was signed into law last year, Senate Republicans argued that many of the provisions were blatant attacks on our law enforcement professionals, which would jeopardize our communities’ public safety,” said Tracy. “It is disheartening because it appears that our fears were well-founded, given the subsequent terrible spike in crime in cities and towns of all sizes across Illinois.”
Retired Piatt County Sheriff David Hunt said, “Part of the reason I decided to retire is that Illinois Democrats made a decision to push forward police reform that I felt would have a negative impact on law enforcement officers and our work to fight violent crime. I support the legislative package that the Senate Republicans have unveiled and believe it would have a positive impact.”
“It’s no surprise we’re seeing officers, sheriffs, police chiefs retiring in record numbers. They’re facing historic levels of violent crime, and their state government is making their jobs harder and less safe,” said State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro).
“As a mother myself, we owe it to the parents of this state to provide a safer place for them to raise their kids,” said Senate Republican Deputy Leader Sue Rezin (R-Morris). “Our first step to doing that is by supporting our police and enabling them to do their jobs.”
The Senate Republican legislative package also contains bills to keep violent offenders off the street, help stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, take serious action against carjacking, provide mental health treatment to detainees, and repeal the dangerous bail provisions of the anti-police “SAFE-T Act.”
“These are reasonable, common-sense steps we can take today to protect our communities,” said State Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield). “If Democrats are truly ready to do something to protect the people of this state, they can prove it by allowing these bills to be heard, debated, and considered in committee.”
The Senate Republican legislative package has the support of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.
“This legislative package is an important step toward protecting our communities and our police officers. Our officers, who day-in, day-out, serve our communities, sometimes at considerable risk to themselves, deserve a voice at the table when it comes to public safety,” said Chris Southwood, President of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police. “The Senate Republican proposals incorporate the concerns of law-enforcement professionals from across the state and seek to undo the damage done by last year’s anti-police overhaul.”