Senate Republicans Focus on Public Safety

On Oct. 20, several Senate Republican members joined together at the Illinois Police Memorial at the Capitol to renew their calls for comprehensive public safety reforms to address the uptick in criminal violence across Illinois.

In response to the surge in violent crime in Chicago and across the state, Senate Republicans filed a package of bills two weeks ago to address the crisis on several fronts. The package includes a “Fund the Police” component, which would provide a major infusion of resources to criminal justice and mental health programs.

Other components of the package included:

  • Requiring those who assault police officers or bring weapons into penal institutions to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.
  • Increasing sentencing for violent gun offenders to a mandatory 10-year sentence for a first offense, and a sentence of life for a second offense.
  • Requiring a minimum 10-year sentence for those who would purchase or supply a gun to any individual who is prohibited from owning a gun.

The press conference also featured Amber Oberheim, the widow of slain Champaign police officer Chris Oberheim who was gunned down while on duty in May 2021. She echoed the calls from Senator Republicans to take action, urging Democrat lawmakers to bring the public safety reform package before members of the General Assembly.

Senate Republicans had formally requested that bills be discussed at a meeting of the Criminal Justice Committee earlier in the week, but their requests were not allowed.

The fall veto session is set to conclude on Oct. 28. Currently, none of the reform bills from the package have been scheduled for a hearing.

Dave Syverson

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