Statement on the Illinois Chiefs’ Position on the SAFE-T Act

April 7, 2022 

By Ed Wojcicki
ILACP Executive Director

The Illinois Chiefs’ position on the SAFE-T Act is not fully understood, so I want to explain it clearly. We have been getting questions about it this week.

The SAFE-T Act now consists of three pieces of legislation:

  • HB 3653, signed on Feb. 22, 2021. ILACP opposed.
  • Trailer bill 1, signed on June 21, 2021. ILACP supported.
  • Trailer bill 2, signed on Jan. 7, 2022. ILACP supported.

That makes it complicated when asked today about our position on the SAFE-T Act, which some legislators and some law enforcement leaders want to see repealed. We supported many of the concepts in the law, and we will always strive to be leaders in reform. So the ILACP does not share the view that the law should be repealed, because after two successful trailer bills and plans for more modifications, all Illinois agencies are already a year into implementing the SAFE-T Act. To undo all of that effort would be disingenuous on our part. 

We had asked Governor Pritzker to veto HB 3653. When he signed it, then-ILACP President James R. Black issued this statement, and discussions about trailer bills had already begun to fix unworkable language in the law. He wrote:

“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 appreciate the legislators who stood with us in opposing HB 3653, and we appreciate the response of legislators to help fix the SAFE-T Act and to support funding for its many provisions that cost money. Our focus always is to do our best for our members and all of Illinois law enforcement. Frankly, that has caused some Democrats and some Republicans to think we do not appreciate their support of law enforcement. That is certainly not the case, and we regret that.

Did we oppose the SAFE-T Act? Yes, in the strongest possible terms. We joined a Law Enforcement Coalition Statement that said: “This new law is a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most.”

Do we oppose the SAFE-T Act today? No, because we have been collaborating and working overtime for more than a year to improve the law and make it more workable for our member agencies. We presented our concerns to legislators, and through the two trailer bills we have worked to rectify many of the most serious problems. Our goal has been and continue to be to make SAFE-T Act more workable on the street for officers. We still oppose the sections of the law that we have asked to be fixed. 

Do we still have concerns about some aspects of the law? Absolutely, yes. That is why we were advocating for Trailer Bill 3 this spring to address our ongoing concerns in the same manner that worked for all of us in the first two trailer bills. 

We are proud of our achievements through our collaborative efforts with legislators and stakeholders. We have and will continue to fight for what is best for our membership, our profession, and the communities that we serve. Our collaborative efforts will continue, and we will be in partnership with whomever is seeking to make positive contributions to our profession, without regard to party affiliation.

We are confident that our collaboration will continue so that Illinois communities and citizens are not at risk and so that public officials and some pundits will stop doing and saying things that have made recruitment and retention in our noble profession more challenging.