Democrats deny police aid plan responds to anti-crime criticism


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Democrats in the General Assembly, under pressure from a law enforcement community that feels unappreciated in a time of rising crime, introduced a package of legislation on Monday to building support, from pinning badges to top candidates to allowing retirees to keep their service revolvers.

The plan would provide unspecified funding to local police departments to recruit and train candidates; purchase body cameras and storage capacity for video; creating after-hours childcare for single parents to advance their careers despite unusual working hours; and expand mental health resources for first responders to deal with the trauma that can lead to early exit from the field.

“We are all experiencing an increase in violence across the country,” said the mental health program’s sponsor, Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, a Democrat from Chicago, adding that survivors and first responders “carry the greatest burden of this crisis.

With four days left in the spring session, it is the second crime reduction package proposed by Democrats in four days. The first dealt with victim support services. Monday’s measures are aimed at supporting policing communities who complained they were demonized 15 months ago when the Black Caucus-led police overhaul was signed into law. Known as the -T Act, the overhaul came amid a series of shootings involving police in Chicago and across the country.

SAFE-T set standards for the use of force by police, set a timetable for requiring all officers to wear body cameras, eliminated cash bail for criminal suspects and more.

Presenters at the Democrats’ state Capitol press conference on Monday were overwhelmingly white. Rockford Democratic Rep. Dave Vella said Black Caucus members were meeting on other issues, but had worked through and approved the package. He dismissed questions as to whether the plan is an “antidote” to ease police discomfort over SAFE-T.

“It’s not an antidote to anything,” Vella said. “We are the ones trying to make the streets safer and to have more police on the streets. That’s it.”

Some Republicans have gone so far as to blame the increase in crime on the SAFE-T Act, although none of these measures have taken effect. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, a Republican from Western Springs, continued the campaign on Monday.

“Illinois Democrats have repeatedly attacked our police and justice system,” Durkin said in a statement. “Today they are trying to rewrite history. Until they wake up and repeal their pro-criminal SAFE-T law, there will be no safe communities in Illinois.


Comments are closed.