Omnibus police reform bill passes House

Cabello calls bill a “first step” to improving law enforcement in the state

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House on Thursday passed an wide-reaching police reform bill with more than 100 votes.

The bill was backed both parties, had the approval of the American Civil Liberties Union and met concerns expressed by police organizations.

The measure, among other things, would:

  • Authorize, but not mandate, the use of police body cameras throughout the state.
  • Set protocols for police use of the cameras and the retention of data.
  • Mandate fair-policing training for officers.
  • Start a grant program funded by a $5 charge on traffic tickets to help fund the cameras and training.
  • Clarify the state’s eavesdropping language to reflect that on-duty police can be recorded by the public.
  • Establish a database of officers fired for misconduct or who resigned while under criminal investigation.
  • Require involvement of independent agency investigators in officer-involved deaths.

But what began as a rare bipartisan, congratulatory moment in the House got nasty for a moment when Democrats cut off discussion after only a few members spoke.

Left without a chance to ask questions or comment were House Republicans, including John Cabello of Machesney Park and John Anthony of Plainfield, both of whom worked on the bill extensively with House sponsor Rep. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago).

Cabello is a detective on leave from the Rockford Police Department while serving in the General Assembly, and Anthony is a former municipal officer and sheriff’s deputy.

Republicans were furious, and Cabello declined to vote when the bill was first called. Although he congratulated Sims, he added he could not get home fast enough to wash the partisan stink of the Legislature from himself.

Later in the afternoon, Sims joined in the unusual move of bringing his already successful bill back to the floor for reconsideration, largely in order to let Republicans comment.

Republicans, including Cabello, said they appreciated the move.

“Today, we are standing on the shoulders of some monumental men and women who really believe this needs to happen,” said Cabello, his voice breaking.

Recalling a ceremony to honor fallen officers just a few weeks ago, Cabello reminded legislators he’d told them, “Law enforcement is not perfect, and I give you my word that we are willing to get better.”

“And this is the first step; it is not the end.”

“As long as we work, like we did, together, this is what we can do. Maybe for just a moment today we see … what we can get done. When we do work together, we can accomplish things that no other General Assembly has accomplished before.

“Back then, I said there are excellent men and women in this General Assembly on both sides of the aisle, and today that’s been confirmed.”

The measure, Senate Bill 1304, ultimately cleared the House on a vote of 107-3. It now returns to the Senate for concurrence on House amendments. Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) is the sponsor.

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