Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced laws to improve the police certification and de-certification process to advocate for guidelines that will bring about permanent, systematic change in policing in Illinois.
House Bill 841, sponsored by Sen. Elgie Sims and Rep. Justin Slaughter, was initiated by Raoul and focuses on three key areas for reform: creating unity for officials and departments across the state, promoting law enforcement professionalism, and increasing transparency . At present, the methods that law enforcement agencies and prosecutors use to investigate and take action to respond to official wrongdoing vary from department to department. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board can decertify an officer only if convicted of a felony and a limited list of offenses.
“More than ever, meaningful law enforcement reform is essential to restore public confidence in the law enforcement and hold officials accountable for outrageous misconduct that should render them unworthy of police officers anywhere in the state,” Raoul said. “This is the result of months of joint discussions with law enforcement partners and is just one component of a multifaceted approach to improving the accountability, transparency and professionalism of officials. I am determined to continue working with our law enforcement partners and reform advocates to improve policing in communities across Illinois, and I encourage members of the General Assembly to pass these laws to help achieve that goal. “
“I am pleased that Attorney General Raoul has shown support and guidance on this matter,” said Sims. “These reforms aim to better protect not just the community but police officers as well. Justice will be guaranteed when applied consistently and properly. Trust is built when the public knows that authorities are being held accountable. Inconsistent standards and a lack of transparency creates distrust of officers, which in turn endangers not only them but all of us. “
“When we look at police accountability, it is important that Illinois strengthen its oversight and enforcement guidelines for law enforcement,” Slaughter said. “This action results in a solid certification and de-certification process that will increase public safety and vastly improve policing in Illinois.”
HB 841 will improve the Illinois police certification and decertification processes in the following ways:
- Create consistency during the review process: Currently, the ILETSB is only required to automatically decertify an officer if he or she is convicted of a crime or a limited number of serious offenses. The bill empowers the ILETSB to investigate allegations of serious misconduct that may not automatically lead to de-certification but warrant behavior that warrants a review of the officer’s actions, e.g. B. Excessive use of force, failure to intervene when another officer uses excessive force, tampering with a body or a dash camera, or dishonesty in reporting a crime. If, after an investigation and hearing before an administrative judge, it is determined that the officer has committed misconduct, a certification review body may make a decision to decertify the officer. The certification review panel would be composed of representatives from law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, community activists, and lawyers from crime victims.
- Promote professionalism: A compulsory reporting system would be created in which an officer notifies the ILETSB that he has completed his compulsory in-service training, is still employed in a department and has not committed any behavior worthy of decertification. Frequent reporting and the ability for the ILETSB to review training reports will ensure that officers meet Illinois standards of professionalism and that officers in the communities are regularly provided with the latest training required by the state.
- Increase in transparency: The bill would improve three areas of information exchange: information exchange between recruitment departments; Information exchanged between departments and prosecutors; and information exchanged between the ILETSB and the public. Raoul’s proposal includes adding relevant disciplinary information to the civil servants’ professional conduct database, including reports of dishonesty, misconduct and the results of an officer’s decertification. By expanding the information contained in the database, personnel decisions would no longer be based on word-of-mouth recommendations. In addition, prosecutors have access to the information necessary to provide the necessary information about officials involved in criminal matters. The expanded and publicly available database is an important tool that would create more transparency and accountability in order to improve public confidence in law enforcement.
As part of Raoul’s calls for major police and criminal justice reform, he advocated a broader pattern and authority for attorneys general and improved compensation for crime victims. Raoul worked with the Illinois Black Caucus to include the language in House Bill 163, which would give the Illinois Attorney General’s Office clear authority under state law to investigate and resolve patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing by local and state agencies. In addition, as recommended by Raoul, HB 163 would improve the compensation program for victims of crime. The bill would allow the Attorney General’s office to manage the benefits more efficiently to make it easier for survivors to access resources. By modernizing the program, the Attorney General’s Office will not only be able to better meet the immediate needs of crime victims, but also help break the cycle of community violence.
The Civil Rights Office Enforces state and federal civil rights laws to outlaw discrimination in Illinois, and advocates laws to strengthen those laws. Raoul encourages people who need it file a complaint to do so online or call the Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692.
Raoul encourages individuals involved in a violent crime to call or visit his office’s Crime Victims Assistance Line at 1-800-228-3368 aAttorney General’s website.