Illinois state lawmakers pass controversial police reform bill

Sweeping criminal justice reform legislation could be approved with Governor JB Pritzker’s signature.

The bill's supporters are hoping it provides more accountability in policing and allows those who cannot afford bail to go free until their trial.

Meanwhile, opponents believe it strips police of any protections to effectively do their jobs and puts communities at risk.

The battle cry of police reform advocates was heard loud and clear on Wednesday. Hours before ending the lame duck legislative session, Springfield lawmakers passed a wide-ranging bill that bans chokeholds, dramatically scales back use of force and eradicates cash bail.

"We want to make sure that the bond system we modernize it so that you're not incarcerating someone just because you're poor, but because they are a threat to public safety," said Democrat State Senator Elgie Sims Jr.

"The cash bail is essentially an effort to defund our police departments, especially our smaller police departments," said Republican State Senator Jason Plummer.


Some of the more controversial provisions were removed, like eliminating qualified immunity for police, which would open them up to civil lawsuits.

"They want to create a task force to review qualified immunity and the protections it provides police officers. No one's talking about the immunity that legislators get for passing bills that may have a negative impact. But by golly we're going to have a task force to evaluate what first responders do on scenes when they've got bullets flying at them," said Jim Kaitschuk, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.

All police departments must have body worn cameras by 2025, and citizens can make anonymous complaints against police that could dictate whether they are disciplined or fired.