(The Center Square) – With crime rates up across Illinois, state lawmakers have differing opinions on how rapidly to address the issues.
Illinois House Republicans are demanding the Democrats' SAFE-T Act be repealed. The measure eliminates cash bail within two years, makes it easier to decertify police officers by eliminating signed affidavits of complaint, and mandates the use of police body cameras for all officers by 2025.
The sweeping criminal justice reform and police regulation bill was passed in the final hours of the previous General Assembly last year and later enacted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Since then, there have been efforts to clean up various aspects of the bill.
Calling for the bill to be repealed, state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said during a news conference Thursday that Illinois is less safe.
“Crime has skyrocketed,” Spain said. “Carjackings are taking place at an out-of-control rate. Retail theft is up. Violent crime has risen. Murders, the city of Chicago have reached over 800 murders in 2021. In my community, in my hometown of Peoria, we had 34 homicides.”
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released a statement saying the bill was a joint effort with various communities to make the justice system more effective and just.
"Many provisions of the SAFE-T Act have not even gone into effect yet, proving the Republican gambit is all for show,” the group said in a joint statement. “Today’s press conference is another instance of the Illinois GOP chasing relevancy.”
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, urged the committee to approach any further reforms to curb crime and violence methodically.
“Yes, crime and violence is a criminal justice matter and we know that is a big part of it,” Slaughter told the committee. “What we also know is there is myriad different factors.”
Slaughter said the committee will “slow down to speed up.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, responded Thursday, urging for repeal of the Democrats' sweeping criminal justice reform and police regulation law.
“So they’re going to go down this process and say ‘we’re making minor changes, a couple of tweaks here and there,’” Durkin said. “But the fact is this thing is wrong, it’s dead wrong, and it’s going to set back public safety by decades if we don’t get this fixed this year.”