Approval of a sweeping police reform bill in the waning hours of Illinois’ lame duck legislative session turned up the heat on the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police to cut a contract deal with Mayor Lori Lightfoot or risk having it imposed on them.
Championed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, the 764-page bill passed the House and Senate today and is headed for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.
It doesn’t eliminate qualified immunity for police officers, which would have made it easier for officers to be sued for actions they take on the street. But the other reforms in the bill will dramatically strengthen Lightfoot’s hand in negotiations with the union representing rank-and-file Chicago Police Department officers, whose contract expired nearly four years ago.
Police officers would need to be licensed by the state. No longer would police disciplinary procedures or protections be the subject of collective bargaining. Negotiations would effectively be confined to wages, benefits and working conditions.
Body cameras would be mandatory for all police officers in Illinois and cops would be held accountable for turning them on, along with the audio.
The bill also includes a host of other criminal-justice reforms, including ending cash bail. In 2017, Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans reformed the county’s bail system by encouraging judges to set bond as low as possible, but the legislation goes far beyond that push.
Under the bill, criminal defendants will no longer be required to post any cash bail to be released before trial. The only exceptions would be those defendants whom judges deem a risk to public safety or a risk to flee before trial.