Police Reform Bill heads to Illinois Governor Pritzker’s desk; Clark County Sheriff Reacts

The Illinois House has passed a controversial police reform bill that now heads to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk to be signed into law. The bill passed the House with a 60-50 vote after being approved by the Senate.

Posted: Jan 14, 2021 6:57 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2021 10:52 AM

CLARK COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) - The Illinois House has passed a controversial police reform bill that now heads to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk to be signed into law. The bill passed the House with a 60-50 vote after being approved by the Senate.

News 10 caught up with Clark County Sheriff Bill Brown in Illinois. He voiced his concerns with the 754 page bill--A bill that was presented to the Illinois Senate just before 4AM and was voted on at 4:45 AM.

This bill includes mandating the use of police body cameras for all officers in the State of Illinois by 2025. It also includes additional training for all police officers. This focuses on de-escalating situations, identifying mental health issues, and only allowing the use of deadly force when an officer acts in self-defense or when defending others.

Sheriff Brown says he’s absolutely behind more training and body cameras for police officers. The problem, he says, becomes funding these endeavors. He says they are unfunded mandates that will affect the tax base in Clark County.

He also says he’s 100% on board with focusing on de-escalation and mental health training, but that may cause unforeseen issues in real-life situations.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with de-escalation training. The more we can de-escalate a situation, the better it is for everyone involved,” Sheriff Brown said, “I have a duty, though, and an obligation to protect me or maybe the bystanders that are with me. In that split second decision, you don’t get to make the choice and say, ‘okay they may have mental health issues, so I can’t stop the threat.’ That’s not how it works.”

Sheriff Brown says his biggest concern with this bill is the elimination of cash bail within two years. He says that part of it directly affects the safety and peace of mind of citizens in Clark County.

“What it means to me is that if I’m letting someone out that just broke into somebody’s house and I let them right back out—Are they going to go reoffend?” Sheriff Brown explained. “My concern is yes they might. That’s a personal thing for me because we take great pride in trying to help take care of the citizens of our County.”

Sheriff Brown says he believes that a lot of this bill comes from problems they have in Chicago. He says just because they need fixing up there doesn’t mean areas like Clark County need fixing.

Sheriff Brown says he’s about 150 pages through the massive, 754 page police reform bill. While he voice his concerns about this newly introduce legislation, he takes more of an issue with the way it was handled in getting it passed.

“I’m not saying that there are not ways that we can work together and come up with good ideas and solutions to make law enforcement and policing better. In every profession, there’s always ways to make things better,” Sheriff Brown explained, “However, let’s do it collectively as a group of legislators, sheriffs, chiefs of police, and states attorneys. Let’s bring all the stakeholders to the table, hash it out together, and come up with the best plan.”

Overall, Sheriff Brown says he and his Sheriff’s Office will always abide by the laws in place.

“We’re going to put our uniform on every day, we’re going to be proud of the job we do, we’re going to do it right like we’ve always done it right in Clark County, we’re going to work for the citizens of this county, and we’re going to keep doing our job.”

Sheriff Brown says he anticipates Governor Pritzker to sign the bill into law.

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