(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker and several lawmakers are touring the state touting the new justice reform law that was signed this week.
House Bill 3653, meant to reshape criminal justice and policing in Illinois, was passed in the final days of the lame-duck session last month by the General Assembly.
The centerpiece of the massive law is ending cash bail. Almost every person would be released from jail while awaiting trial unless a judge decides otherwise.
At a stop in Peoria Wednesday, sponsors of the bill were asked about the police bodycam mandate and the financial burden on police departments. State Sen. Elgie Sims said there are funds available.
“There’s $2.1 million in the body-worn camera grant fund right now, there’s $3.4 million in the 2022 budget recommendation, and there are continuing discussions about what additional funds will be necessary,” Sims said.
But Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said they have nothing against body cams, but disagrees with the statements regarding funding.
“Absolutely not,” Wojcicki said. “We heard those statements that some funds are available, but there is not nearly enough to do what this law asks all departments to do.”
Wojcicki says with the body cam mandate, along with the costs of the actual equipment, there are storage issues and the hiring of additional personnel to manage the footage.
One provision says officers cannot review their own body camera video before writing a report. Wojcicki said that is “gotcha” language, and would be like saying television reporters cannot review any video they shot before writing a story for the airwaves.
Village officials in Washburn have voted to eliminate their police department. The mayor said cost increases related to liability and insurance as a result of the crime bill influenced the decision.
Many provisions of the law will take effect on July 1, while others will be phased in over the next four years.