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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Illinois General Assembly Sends Criminal Justice Reform Bill to Governor

Yesterday, the Illinois General Assembly completed the 101st General Assembly. Before adjourning, the legislature passed new legislation, including HB 3653, the criminal justice reform bill. The bill is more than 700 pages long, so we are still getting through it, but we did want to share the Illinois Municipal League's summary of the bill that ultimately passed both the Illinois Senate and House and has been sent to the Governor. If the Governor signs the legislation, it will become effective on July 1, 2021, although certain provisions have delayed effective dates. 

You can read the IML summary here. We have also summarized some of the key points of the bill that will affect local governments below:

Constitutional Rights and Remedies

The bill creates a Task Force on Constitutional Rights and Remedies to develop policies and procedures to review and reform constitutional rights and remedies, including qualified immunity for police officers. Note that previous versions of this bill had also included the elimination of qualified immunity but that was not part of the approved bill.

Process for Whistleblower Complaints

The bill amends the Public Officer Prohibited Political Activities Act to modify the whistleblower and retaliation provisions for employees who report violations of this Act by local government employees or contractors, and requires employees who invoke this Act to file a written report to the appropriate auditing official. 

The bill also requires the "auditing official" of the government agency to establish a written process and procedures for managing complaints filed under this Section. For local governments, the "auditing official" is defined as that elected, appointed, or employed official with the local government with responsibility for investigating employee misconduct. If no such individual exists, the County States Attorney will serve as the auditing official.

This bill will likely require some action by units of local government to designate the appropriate "auditing official" and put in place written policies and procedures for managing complaints filed under this new law.

Permanent Retention of Police Misconduct Records

The bill amends the Local Records Act to provide that police misconduct records and records relating to complaints, investigations, and adjudications of police misconduct must be permanently retained and may not be destroyed.

Mental Health Screenings

The bill requires the ILETSB to establish statewide minimum standards regarding regular mental health screenings for probationary and permanent police officers.

Police Officer Training 

The bill requires the curriculum for probationary police officers to include training on use of force, de-escalation, officer safety, and high-risk traffic stops, among other topics. New training on emergency medical response, crisis intervention, and officer wellness and mental health are also added to the required training for police officers. The bill also requires ILETSB to establish rules and minimum standards for in-service training of at least 30 hours every 3 years. The bill requires ILETSB to approve a standard curriculum for crisis intervention training.

Officer-Worn Body Cameras

The bill requires all law enforcement agencies to employ the use of officer-worn body cameras and sets a schedule for implementation, as follows:

  • Municipalities with population of 500,000 or more - January 1, 2022
  • Municipalities with population between 100,000 and 499,999 - January 1, 2023
  • Municipalities with population between 50,000 and 99,999 - January 1, 2024
  • Municipalities with population under 50,000 - January 1, 2025

Law enforcement agencies that comply with these requirements will receive preference for grant funding. The bill also requires annual reporting of the use of body-cameras to ILETSB on or before May 1st of each year.

Law enforcement agencies have additional new reporting requirements, including reporting on incidents where officers are dispatched to deal with someone experiencing a mental health crisis, reporting on use of force, including actions that result in death or serious bodily injury or discharge of firearm at or in the direction of a person.

Uniform Peace Officers' Disciplinary Act

The bill amends this Act to remove a requirement that an officer be informed of names of complainants prior to an administrative proceeding and the name, rank, and unit of the officer in charge of the investigation.

The bill also removes the requirement that complaints against sworn officers be supported by a sworn affidavit, and states that this ban applies to any collective bargaining agreement entered into after the effective date of the bill.

The bill also allows someone to file notice of an anonymous complaint to the ILETSB of any misconduct of an officer. Note that this provision takes effect on January 1, 2023

Municipal and Counties Code - Military Surplus Equipment

The bill amends the Municipal Code and Counties Code to prohibit law enforcement agencies from requesting or receiving certain equipment from any military surplus program. To the extent equipment is not on the prohibited list, agencies must publish notice prior to requesting that equipment. This provision preempts home rule authority.

Use of Deadly Force and the Criminal Code 

The bill amends the Criminal Code to modify the provisions regarding police officer justification for use of force to add language regarding the "totality of the circumstances". Also requires police officers, where feasible, to identify as a police officer prior to use of force and to warn that deadly force may be used unless the officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person is aware of these facts. Prohibits the use of deadly force if the police officer does not believe the person does not pose an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. Also prohibits use of deadly force in a property offense situation unless that situation involves terrorism or deadly force is otherwise authorized by law. 

Prohibited Use of Force

The bill prohibits police officers from using a restraint above the shoulders with risk of asphyxiation, as well as continuing to prohibit the use of chokeholds. The bill also prohibits use of force as punishment or retaliation, the discharge of projectiles aimed at the head, pelvis, or back or indiscriminately into a crowd, and the use of chemical irritants, including pepper spray and tear gas, prior to issuing an order to disperse. The bill also prohibits the use of force to prevent escape.

Police Officer Duty to Render Aid

The bill requires all law enforcement officers to render medical aid and request emergency medical assistance if necessary

Police Officer Duty to Intervene

The bill mandates that police officers intervene to stop or prevent another police officer from using unauthorized force and to report the intervention.

Official Misconduct of Police Officers

The bill expands the official misconduct statute to include (1) misrepresentation or failure to provide facts to describe an incident or report during an investigation of an officer's conduct; (2) withholding of information about another officer's conduct; and (3) failure to comply with the officer-worn body camera statute.

Investigation of Misconduct and Process

The bill requires government agencies that submit notice of violation to the ILETSB to conduct an investigation and adopt a policy regarding these investigations. The ILETSB is then authorized to review reports and evidence and make a determination whether officer should be decertified.

Law Enforcement Compliance Verification

The bill requires law enforcement officers to submit a verification form confirming compliance with the Act for the three year period prior to the verification.

Execution of Warrants

Allows use of no-knock warrants if body-worn cameras are in use or the interaction is otherwise recorded.

Freedom of Information Act

The bill adds new exemptions to FOIA to protect new records contained in the  Officer Professional Conduct Database and records supplied to the ILETSB.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Deflection

The bill adds various new topics for substance use and deflection programs and expands uses of appropriate funds. Also prioritizes funding for communities with police/community relation issues and those with a lack of access to mental health and drug treatment programs.

Attorney General Civil Suits

The bill requires the Attorney General to file a civil action if he or she believes a government authority or agent of government has engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives a person of constitutional rights.

Abolition of Monetary Bail

The bill eliminates the requirement of posting monetary bail, effective January 1, 2023.

Obviously, this summary is by no means exhaustive and more will be reported as we analyze the bill regarding the impacts to local governments. 


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