Details of Law Enforcement Coalition's 15-point plan

for Safe Communities and Law Enforcement Modernization

December 28, 2020

Members of the Coalition:

  • Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge
  • Illinois FOP Labor Council
  • FOP Lodge 7 (Chicago)
  • Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Illinois Sheriffs' Association 

            The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge, FOP Labor Council, FOP Chicago Lodge 7, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police have formed the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition and have been working on strategies to improve community safety and to enhance the trust and support of the community members we serve.

            The Coalition members all support modernization that would improve the criminal justice system for all Illinoisans and create a better trained law enforcement community.

            Together, we represent or manage the vast majority of law enforcement agencies and officers in Illinois. Combined, we respond to millions of calls for service every year, and we are proud of the thousands of officers who protect our communities so that Illinois’ 12.5 million residents can freely and safely go about their business. We are pleased that at the local level, surveys consistently show that most residents have a high level of respect for their local law enforcement agencies. We are as dismayed as anyone about the small number who tarnish the badge, and we have heard various calls for police reform in recent years, and moreso this year.

            As law enforcement professionals, we want to take the leading role in modernizing policing and keeping our communities safe. With that in mind, we offer the following Safe Community and Police Modernization Strategy for 2021

Safe Communities and Law Enforcement Modernization Strategy for 2021

Voices of crime victims:  Our concern in much of the “reform” discussion is that crime victims are not taken into consideration in many of these so-called reform proposals. The Coalition members will continue to be outspoken advocates for crime victims – victims of abuse and neglect, violence, sexual assault, property crimes, and many more. Without the dedication, hard work and compassion of law enforcement professionals, most victims would never experience justice.

Co-responder Model Pilot Projects: There are very few social workers who work for police agencies today.  For law enforcement to have access to a social worker or mental health professional would be very beneficial in specific incidences on the street, in residences, and in the jails.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to have enough staff today, much less add additional employees.  We would support pilot projects that provide access to social workers that are countywide or regional.  There are many parts of the state where this is not only a financial issue, but also one of finding available social workers.

Mental health services:  We support additional resources for mental health services and other community services that might provide an alternative to arrest, but these resources should not be used to reduce law enforcement funding. When state-operated facilities were closed to save money in recent decades, that  put more people with mental illness on the street. Law enforcement budgets were not increased to reflect the additional strain on their activity and calls for service.  Training law enforcement officers in subject matter like Crisis Intervention Training can go a long way to de-escalating even the most hostile scenarios, but there is not enough funding or opportunities for widespread CIT training in Illinois.

Funding for community resources: To assist communities in responding to calls for immediate service, provide adequate state funding for local agencies such as, but not limited to, local mental health and substance abuse providers, social workers, and county and municipal jails.

Recognize Illinois’ leadership in reforms: Here is a partial list of training already required for Illinois officers on a regular basis:

  1. Use of force
  2. Civil rights
  3. Legal updates
  4. Cultural competency
  5. Procedural justice (voice, fairness, transparency, impartiality)
  6. Human rights
  7. Sexual assault trauma-informed response

Training and Funding for Training: As individual organizations and collectively, we have been advocating for sustained training money for quite some time, but it hasn’t been provided.  For all training requirements, including the academies, provide state funding for the training itself and for the additional costs incurred by agencies when other officers are taking the training. The state is not even remotely adequately covering training costs today, and legislators seem to be aware that the longtime source of training funds (traffic ticket surcharges) is drying up. 

Transparency 1: Body Cameras:  Expanding state funding for body cameras would be great. We continue to support the use of body cameras, and we have recommended several major changes in state law that would eliminate burdensome impediments that now cause many departments not to use them. We do not believe body cameras should be mandated for all agencies, because even with these changes, financial resources will be a major consideration for all agencies.

Transparency 2: Get rid of bad cops: Strengthen Illinois policies and procedures regarding the dismissal and decertification of sworn officers, with appropriate due process. Expand the list of offenses that lead to automatic decertification, and make it nearly impossible for the truly bad cops either in Illinois or from other states to job hop from one department to the next.

Transparency 3: Use of Force reporting: The FBI has developed a national database for all local agencies to report use of force for officer-involved shootings, and we support mandating participation by all agencies in this database.

Transparency 4: Reporting Misconduct:  We support agencies reporting serious misconduct to the state, and to the state having a database tracking all of these reports. [italicized language revised by ILACP]

Collective Bargaining:  We support an expedited arbitration process. This would alleviate some of the issues that allow cases to drag on for a long time. Due process must be provided as it is to anyone.

Use of Force standardized policy:  Coalition members have been talking to legislators about a statewide standardized use of force policy, and we believe these discussions should continue. The Chiefs and Sheriffs should write the policy. A national consensus policy on use of force from the International Association of Chiefs of Police has been adapted by many organizations and would provide a sound starting point in Illinois, though not everything in that policy would apply to Illinois. De-escalation and a duty to intervene would be mandated training.

School Resource Officers: SROs receive specialized training and often are among the most popular adults in a school building. Many school districts in the state are adding School Resource Officers and believe in their value, in part, unfortunately, because of the threat of an increase in school shootings. Any decision on maintaining SROs and funding them should remain at the local level.

Officer Wellness and Support:  We continue to support efforts in officer wellness and have been actively working with the new suicide prevention task force. 

Recruitment:  Law enforcement is often negatively portrayed and in many places is significantly underappreciated for the expectations that go with the job.  Agencies continue to look for ways to develop staff that represent the diversity of the communities they serve. Local governments and community leaders must share the responsibility of recruiting diverse law enforcement agencies.

Concerns about Some Reform Proposals

Illinois and the nation are benefiting from healthy discussions about a variety of issues. As explained above, many changes would make our communities safer. However, some proposed changes would be detrimental to most of communities’ residents and to law enforcement in carrying out their responsibilities. On these issues, we recommend few or no changes in current practices and laws:

Execution of Warrants:  No-knock warrants are seldom granted now, but they are a necessary tool depending on the circumstances.  Serving warrants is one of the most dangerous activities required of law enforcement professionals, because in times too many to count, those being served resort to violence. We are willing to discuss a database.

“Militarization”:   First of all, we do not know everything that might be included when people suggest ending the practice of local law enforcement getting access to military equipment. Most of this “military" equipment and other government surplus equipment is furniture and other office equipment. Other times, untrained citizens think they are seeing “tanks” when in fact it is heavy duty equipment. Many of these tools, including bearcats, are essential in saving lives and sometimes, in rescuing innocent civilians. 

Sworn affidavits:  We support the right of people to file a complaint against an officer, but we oppose eliminating the sworn affidavit that must accompany a complaint. There would be too many frivolous complaints and “revenge” complaints if this were eliminated, and that was the case previously before sworn affidavits were required by law.

Qualified Immunity:  We oppose eliminating or restricting qualified immunity. Many people and politicians mistakenly believe that qualified immunity makes it impossible to sue a police officer or department. That is absolutely not true. Qualified Immunity must be limited or removed in a vacuum. If it is not part of a total package that would include eliminating immunity for state’s attorneys and state legislators, then it can be only been seen as a clear attack on law enforcement specifically. 

Detainment and Corrections:  Detainees are now provided access to phone calls under state law.  We already do post this information in jails. We would continue to oppose expanding this “access to phone calls” for a variety of reasons, and if necessary, to identify the rare department in Illinois where this might be an issue. 

Reform of bail system: We believe it would go too far to eliminate bail or significantly reduce situations in which people would be freed without bail. Safeguards must be in place so that judges can determine whether a person under arrest is a threat to society and the likelihood that the person would actually show up in court. Also, too much focus on an arrested person’s rights reduces or eliminates the rights of victims and the legitimate fears that crime victims have about becoming the victims of crimes again.