President Black issues statement on governor's plan to sign HB 3653 

By Chief James R. Black
President, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police
Chief of Police, Crystal Lake Police Department 

February 22, 2021
Uploaded at 10:55 a.m.

Today, Governor Pritzker intends to sign HB 3653, also known as the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, into law. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has never been opposed to positive police reform measures or police modernization.

We support police accountability, certification measures, robust training, and the use of body worn cameras. We agree with the reform concepts contained in this bill; however, we are opposed to the current ambiguous and conflicting language in many segments of this legislation. We have been labeled as obstructionist and fear mongers by some members of the General Assembly. This could not be further from the truth. If we do not stand up and be the voice of law-abiding citizens and crime victims, then who will?

We have worked collaboratively with the Illinois Attorney General since July to craft the section on police licensing and de-certification. The final result was a piece of legislation that we ended up supporting prior to it being moved in the middle of the night into this Omnibus Reform Bill. If we want a model of collaboration, we need to look no further than our neighbors to the east; the state of Indiana. Members of the Indiana General Assembly have worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement to discuss police reform so successfully that law enforcement has supported their proposed reform efforts thus far. Had Illinois law enforcement had a true opportunity to provide constructive feedback and present logical and unambiguous language, perhaps we would be supporting today’s bill signing; unfortunately, we were not afforded that courtesy.

We understand the position that Governor Pritzker is in and fully anticipated that he would sign the legislation into law. The method in which this bill passed both the Senate and the House should give us all pause. Unfortunately, this 764-page bill was introduced at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, in a non-transparent fashion, without sharing the language with law enforcement before the first votes were taken. Since the passage of this legislation, we have had many conversations with state Senators and Representatives who have all admitted to us that there is bad language contained in this law and that a “trailer bill” will be forthcoming to clean up this language. We certainly hope that is the case, and we are more than willing to sit down and provide positive reform language while still keeping the concepts of this bill intact.

The year 2020 will be forever known as the year of the pandemic, which created clichés of “unprecedented times” and the “new normal.” If we don’t clarify and clean up the language contained in HB 3653, the year 2021 and future years will be forever labeled as the year with “unintended consequences.”

“This new law is a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most.” – Law Enforcement Coalition Statement