(The Center Square) – A statewide law enforcement organization is pushing back against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s threat to withhold federal funding for areas where local officials refuse to enforce his executive orders.

The governor’s stay-at-home orders say no area of the state is ready to reopen in May and restaurants are banned from offering dine-in service through June. The orders were imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that’s sickened nearly 90,000 Illinoisans and has been blamed in about 4,000 deaths in the state since March. 

When asked about local police not enforcing his executive order on Thursday, Pritzker gave them a clear ultimatum. 

“...know that there were leaders in the legal community this morning that spoke about the challenges that will be brought to those local law enforcement to local governments and to businesses that are open.” Pritzker said. “They’re putting people at risk, they’re making their communities unsafe, and they’ll be subject to liability as a result.”

Sheriffs pushed back. 

“Illinois Sheriffs have been elected by their local citizens to keep their communities safe, a trust that every sheriff and sworn law enforcement officer holds dear,” Illinois Sheriffs Association President Jim Kaitschuk said. “It is outrageous that the Governor is threatening retaliation against these leaders and the men and women of their offices. He is insulting heroic police officers, corrections officers and local voters.” 

Pritzker also said that the state could possibly withhold federal funds to local governments that refuse to enforce his executive orders. 

Sheriffs in Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Douglas, Ogle, and Hancock counties have all recently announced they will not use their deputies to enforce Pritzker’s orders. 

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.