Senate Republicans unveil legislative package to support law enforcement, hold violent criminals accountable

SPRINGFIELD – Citing the urgent need for swift action to stem the ongoing spike in violent crime across the state, State Sen. Dave Syverson joined with other Illinois Senate Republican Caucus members Feb. 1 to unveil an updated legislative package targeting violent crime and offering a critical lifeline to law enforcement efforts.

“We have to address the crime wave that is wreaking havoc across our state. While this legislative package won’t eliminate crime completely, it is a good start in sending a message there will be consequences for those who break the law,” said Syverson (R-Cherry Valley).

Republicans held a press conference to announce their new legislative initiatives in the Capitol Rotunda in front of a police remembrance wall, which is dedicated to honoring fallen police officers from the past year. This comes three months after the Caucus members first held a press conference pleading for help from across the aisle to address crime.

“Criminals have become emboldened by the Democrats ‘no consequences’ criminal justice system put in place with their ‘defund the police’ measures. By every measure, their programs have failed. It is time to put the priority back on protecting families and communities,” Syverson said. “Last year, we offered reasonable proposals to help reduce crime and protect our families, but the Democrats who control Springfield refused to act. We hope with the crime rates getting worse, they will be open to passing these new measures as a way to protect our families.”

The legislative package includes a “Fund the Police Grant Act,” which would provide targeted grants to assist law enforcement, provide additional training, and purchase much-needed equipment, including body cameras. The Senators called for greater support for the men and women tasked with protecting communities across the state, noting that police officers and sheriffs were leaving the law-enforcement profession in unprecedented numbers. In many cases, officers leaving the profession have indicated that it was, in large part, due to provisions of the so-called “SAFE-T Act,” an anti-police package rammed through by a partisan vote in the late-night hours of a lame-duck session in January 2021.

Syverson says he stands with local law enforcement officials who continue to express serious concerns about many of the anti-police provisions in the SAFE-T Act.

“Part of the reason I decided to retire is that Illinois Democrats made a decision to push forward police reform that I felt would have a negative impact on law enforcement officers and our work to fight violent crime,” said David Hunt, retired Piatt County Sheriff. “I support the legislative package that the Senate Republicans have unveiled and believe it would have a positive impact.”

“It’s no surprise we’re seeing those in law enforcement retiring in record numbers. They’re facing historic levels of violent crime, and their state government is making their jobs more difficult and less safe,” Syverson said. “The legislative package we introduced today – targeting violent crime and offering a critical lifeline to law enforcement efforts – is an important first step toward reversing the treacherous course the Democrat leaders put us on with their ‘win at all costs’ stance from a year ago.”

The Senate Republican legislative package also contains bills to keep violent offenders off the street, help stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, take serious action against carjacking, provide mental health treatment to detainees, and repeal the dangerous bail provisions of the anti-police “SAFE-T Act.”

The Senate Republican legislative package has the support of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.

“This legislative package is an important step toward protecting our communities and our police officers. Our officers, who day-in, day-out, serve our communities, sometimes at considerable risk to themselves, deserve a voice at the table when it comes to public safety,” said Chris Southwood, President of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police. “The Senate Republican proposals incorporate the concerns of law-enforcement professionals from across the state and seek to undo the damage done by last year’s anti-police overhaul.”

The full text of the Senate Republican legislative package can be seen at https://www.ilsenategop.org/criminal_justice_package .

In addition to these measures, Syverson has signed on to legislation, Senate Bill 3899, that brings back the death penalty for criminals convicted of murdering police officers.

“Last year, there were 346 police officers shot – 73 who died. If you do not have respect for law enforcement, you end up with the chaos we are facing today,” Syverson said. “This sends a strong message that we support those who are defending our families and neighborhoods.”

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