Officials representing Illinois law enforcement groups support increased funding police across Illinois will get with the state’s budget. But, they agree more needs to be done to address crime.
Illinois lawmakers approved a $46.5 billion state spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. It includes over $200 million to go to public safety measures.
The package of bills has yet to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, but he signaled support for the plan.
"This budget will make this a safer state for all who call Illinois home. We’re hiring the largest state police cadet class in history, funding the Gang Crime Witness Protection Program, and providing mental health support for police across the state," Pritzker said in a statement. "Through our Reimagine Public Safety program, we’re tackling the root causes of violence with an expansion of our successful youth summer jobs initiative and proven violence intervention programs. Illinois has never seen an effort this robust to fight and solve crime."
Jim Kaitschuk of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell Davis, president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, recently weighed in on the state’s budget and gave their thoughts on how this will affect law enforcement members and what more needs to be done.
Kaitschuk said he still needs to fully digest the 4,000-page budget, but so far he says the legislative session was a success.
"It was a much better legislative session for law enforcement than we have seen in the immediate past," Kaitschuk told The Center Square. "I think folks are serious about trying to improve the environment that we work in."
The approved budget includes $10 million in funding for a police retention program that aims to address the state-wide police officer shortage. Davis said he was pleased this was addressed.
"We get $10 million for a retention program that would be monitored by the [Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board] to help us keep officers in Illinois and give them some financial incentive to stay here and serve the people of Illinois," Davis told WMAY.
Other funding includes $10 million for less-lethal weapons and another $10 million for mental health resources.
"Are there more things that can be done, absolutely and we are going to keep working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle," Kaitschuk said.
Davis agreed that more needs to be done after changes to the SAFE-T Act, legislation impacting criminal justice and police regulations Democrats enacted early last year, didn’t clear both chambers before lawmakers adjourned.
"We wanted to clean up language as far as trespassing is concerned and Class C and D misdemeanors of what we believe are unintended outcomes of when original legislation was crafted," Davis said. "We have been working with the legislators to try and get that corrected but for some reason [state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago] did not get the response he was looking for."
Both Davis and Kaitschuk said they will continue to work with the General Assembly to further improve public safety for Illinois.
April 18, 2022 at 07:07AM