HB 3653 Panel Discussion
On Sunday, ACE-Naperville hosted a panel discussion regarding House Bill 3653, now called the SAFE-T Act since being signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on February 22. SAFE-T stands for safety, accountability, fairness, and equity today.
The panel focused on how HB 3653 will affect the daily lives of police officers, what reforms were made to the criminal justice system, and some concerns local law enforcement leaders have about the bill.
There were six panelists including Representative Anne Stava-Murray (IL-81), DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick, Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall, Regina Brent and Paul Scott from Unity Partnership, and Carlton Mayers who helped write part of the legislation.
Chief Marshall talked about some of the things the Naperville Police Department already had in place before the legislation was signed. He said the department abolished chokeholds seven or eight years ago. They also currently accept anonymous complaints agains a police officer. He also mentioned Naperville City Council had already approved $500,000 in funding for body cameras for all 177 sworn in officers at the department.
He did express one concern regarding body cameras.
“One of the elements in the body camera language is that officers are not allowed to review their body camera footage prior to writing a police report,” said Marshall. “I think anybody who knows and has been in a traumatic incident you have a tendency to get tunnel vision meaning you don’t see the whole picture. So it’s very important that officers have the ability to look at that body camera before they write their police report.”
Brent talked about the benefits of body cameras for both sides.
“This bill is just not for Black people. This bill is for police as well to be able to prove they did nothing wrong or to say that they were justified in their actions and also to save our lives to say we didn’t have a gun and maybe we were not only six feet but 20 feet when they shot us in the back or when they put a knee on our necks,” said Brent. “Those mandated body cams will serve as proof to say what actually happened.”
Another concern Chief Marshall said residents have brought up to him is the changes to Class B and C misdemeanors. For example, with the new legislation if someone is trespassing on your property, officers cannot take that person into custody unless they’re creating a public safety hazard. Marshall said he hopes as sponsors and legislators work on trailer bill language, “we’ll be able to get some clarification on that.”
Representative Stava-Murray, who co-sponsored the bill, addressed the elimination of cash bail.
“As we know the cash bail system doesn’t’ necessarily keep people safe if someone can afford to get the bailout. Just the other day, a state senator was chased by a man with a gun, and it was a car chase and luckily the police intervened and he was able to get to safety. But after he was arrested, he was out within 24 hours because it was easy for him to post his $15,000 in bond,” said Stava-Murray. “With our new SAFE-T Act that won’t necessarily happen. In that kind of incident if someone is yielding a gun at someone, there needs to be a hearing now and a judge gets to decide. And if there’s a threat to a specific person or persons then that person is detained pre-trial.”
Sheriff Mendrick said eliminating cash bail could be detrimental to the rehabilitation process his office has in place for those arrested who may be in need of treatment.
“80 percent of our people come in on alcohol or narcotics. If you’re high on heroin there could be a possible scenario where we’d still be releasing somebody while they’re still on a substance,” said Mendrick. “I don’t think that would be a good idea because then they would probably go back to bad behavior.”
Mendrick also talked about what his department is doing to better diversity training.
“We have our deputies in the corrections environment interviewing black and brown detainees to see what the flash points were with them and the police,” said Mendrick. “We found out one of the biggest things that got complained about when we were interviewing our incarcerated people was that I guess the police a lot of times asked black and brown people for a driver’s license when they don’t have any probable cause. So once we heard that enough times, that is now going to be one portion of our diversity training.”
The full panel discussion can be viewed here.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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