Policing, body camera bill hailed as national blueprint

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — From a professional police officer’s point of view, Illinois’ new legislation to improve policing and strengthen community trust is a win, said Rep. John Cabello.

Cabello, a Rockford police detective on leave while he serves in the General Assembly, was among the lead negotiators of Senate Bill 1307, which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Wednesday.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, the governor, police groups and the American Civil Liberties Union endorsed the legislation, with many calling it a blueprint for states to follow.

Cabello said he thinks the bill does a good job of building the police-community relationship and makings sure police officers are accountable while respecting the need for officer safety.

“Police work nowadays is nowhere near where it was even when I started 20 years ago,” said Cabello, R-Machesney Park.

While the bill might not thrill everyone, it is strong and does represent real progress as a result of good-faith negotiating, he said.

The lead taken by police groups also encouraged proponents including Cabello, Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield, and Rep. Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago.

“I think this bill is colorblind,” Sims said. “It addresses the delivery of police services.”

“We’ve come a long way, and I think we’ve done a very good job of improving along the way,” said Cabello, adding police are committed to continued improvement.

The measure, among other things:

  • Authorizes, but does not require, the use of police body cameras throughout the state.
  • Sets protocols for police use of the cameras and the retention of data.
  • Mandates fair-policing training and re-training for officers.
  • Starts a grant program funded by a $5 charge on traffic tickets to help fund the cameras and data storage.
  • Establishes a database of officers fired for misconduct or who resigned while under criminal investigation.
  • Requires involvement of independent agency investigators in officer-involved deaths.

“We have some of greatest training standards in nation,” said John Anthony, a former police officer and sheriff’s deputy.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, lead sponsor of the bill, said while everyone tends to focus on body cameras, this legislation goes further and seeks to address issues including use of force, cultural bias and procedural justice.

Raoul and other sponsors said they did not make the body cameras mandatory because the state cannot fund that right now, but the grant fund and, hopefully, federal dollars to come will mean more officers are wearing the cameras daily.

The $5 fee will be added to speeding and other traffic offenses starting in January of 2016.

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