Governor signs bill creating co-responder pilot program supported by Peoria chief, ILACP

May 12, 2022

Another bill will put $10 million into a new Law Enforcement Recruitment and Retention Fund to be administered by the Training Board 

Governor Pritzker signed HB4736 on May 10 in Peoria, authorizing the creation and funding of the Co-Responders Pilot Program. The pilot will support police in areas across the state in teaming up with social service agencies. Initial programs will launch in Peoria, Springfield, East St. Louis, and Waukegan in the next six months.

The City of Peoria and Chief Eric Echevarria took the lead on the bill, with the program being allocated $10 million for all four cities. The chief spoke at the bill signing. You can watch his presentation from this link.

“This will allow the Peoria Police Department to partner with Unity Point to have social workers within our juvenile and adult investigations units,” Echevarria said, “and to create a team that would focus on the resolution of violent, emotional, distressed persons that would be more appropriate and effective, taking into consideration alternatives to arrest to ensure the best possible long-term outcomes.”

The Illinois Chiefs supported this bill in the spring session and will now monitor how the $10 million is allocated and how the four pilot programs are implemented.

The governor said: “This program combines the necessary skills of police with the specialized training of social workers and mental health professionals to address the root causes of crime compassionately and safely. This is supported by data and by what law enforcement officers on the ground are telling us about the incidents they’re addressing.”

The bill also mandates trauma-informed training for homicide investigators, authorizing funding to the Violent Crime Witness Protection Act (previously the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act), and creating a grant program to create tip hotlines or other victim and witness resources.

$10 million for recruitment, retention

Another bill signed into law Wednesday (HB3863 SA1) creates the Law Enforcement Recruitment and Retention fund and provides $10 million to administered by the Training Board. Because the law is brand new, the Training Board does not yet have a process yet for distributing the money. That will be considered in the near future, we are told.

The Illinois Chiefs had asked for $40 million to provide an immediate retention bonus for all sworn officers. “We met in the governor’s office to discuss this and other funding requests, and we are pleased the governor’s office was listening,” said Ed Wojcicki, Executive Director.

The law says the recruitment and retention fund shall be used “to award grants to units of local government, public institutions of higher education, and qualified nonprofit entities for the purpose of hiring and retaining law enforcement officers.

(c) When awarding grants, the Board shall prioritize:

(1) grants that will be used to hire, retain, or hire and retain law enforcement officers in underserved areas and areas experiencing the most need;
(2) achieving demographic and geographic diversity of law enforcement officers that are recruited or hired by applicants that are awarded grants;
(3) maximizing the effects of moneys spent on the actual recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers; and
(4) providing grants that can impact multiple employers.

The governor’s press release says this law addresses “the strain put on first responders and the difficulties associated with attracting and retaining officers. This fund recognizes the challenges and stresses presented by a career in law enforcement and offers retention incentives and recruiting funds to preserve force numbers.”

ILACP has already been in contact with the Training Board about these funds and will attempt to have an impact on how this is rolled out.

New Crime Reduction Task Force

HB4736 also creates a new Crime Reduction Task Force (not mentioned in the governor’s press release), whose purpose “is to develop and propose policies and procedures to reduce crime in the State of Illinois.”

This will be a large task that includes the executive directors of the Illinois Chiefs and Illinois Sheriffs or their designees. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority will oversee this task force, which is asked to produce a report by March 1, 2023.