Illinois legislators begin public discussions on police reforms


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By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – From banning lethal bullets to licensing police officers and other ideas in between, Illinois state lawmakers are eyeing reforms to policing practices.

Before lawmakers took to a virtual legislative hearing on the use of force by police, members of the Legislative Black Caucus laid out their agenda. They include regulations on police, education and workforce development, economic access and health and human services.

“Now is the time to win the battle and the war,” said state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago. “We’ve said it before. Now is the time to pick up the bloodstained banner of our black communities and march forward.”

A civil rights attorney joined the group and said policing is racist to its core.

“Let’s be clear, our 130, 140-year experiment with policing and public safety is not just racist to its core, it’s ineffective,” said attorney Brenden Shiller. “It sandbags after violence occurs. It’s an ineffective system.”

Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said it’s hard to cooperate when that’s the starting point for discussions.

“We’re not just going to be branded that were somehow going after a segment of society,” Kaitschuck said. “I don’t think that’s fair or accurate and to hear something like that is deeply troubling.”

There were also discussions about more mandated training while others urged for defunding police, something Kaitschuck said can’t be balanced.

State legislators are expected to take up police reforms sometime after the November election.

During a virtual legislative hearing Tuesday, state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said the more than three-hour hearing is the beginning of several conversations he plans to lead.

“The length of today’s discussion is a perfect indication of the complexities of the challenges ahead of us,” Sims said.

Among the reforms suggested were more training and banning or regulating certain law enforcement actions. Chuck Gruber with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police said lawmakers need to be clear in what they regulate.

“So that we can take actual corrections, not only training but identifying the outliers and doing something about the outliers,” Gruber said.

Other reform ideas floated included addressing what some said was implicit bias, more predictive physiological evaluations, and a variety of other issues. Nothing concrete has yet advanced.


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