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Local Illinois lawmakers hope to address SAFE-T Act during veto session

adults sitting at a table for discussion
Benjy Jeffords
Safe-T Act round table discussion with business leaders

Illinois lawmakers head back to Springfield next week to finish out their veto session, with big questions remaining about whether they'll address any changes to the controversial SAFE-T Act. The law, among other things, will eliminate the state's cash bail system starting January first.

The Safe-T Act will make sweeping changes to Illinois’ criminal justice system and how it operates.

State leaders and local law enforcement recently met with business leaders, to talk about how the law may change things for them.

State Senator Dale Fowler says he’s very confident there will be some changes during the veto session.

“I know we're going to be working hard for some repeals on the Safety Act, and we want to just ensure that the business climate is well protected and is adverse and has all the information that they need to keep their keep their doors safe.”

Another change is every police officer in the state must have a body camera by 2025.

Marion Police Chief David Fitts says most police officers want body cameras.

“I want everybody in this county to know that every police officer here welcomes the use of body cameras because I can promise you right now that it is going to exonerate way more than it catches us in a trick back and I promise you.”

But Williamson County Sheriff Elect Jeff Diederich says this is an unfunded mandate - and will put an extra burden on taxpayers.

“The cameras are expensive, but the data storage is astronomical. And at a law enforcement level, we've worked very diligently to get over that hurdle. Some have done so better than others your small agencies struggle.”

But perhaps the most controversial part of the Act is the provision that will eliminate cash bail, which is something Sheriff Elect Diederich says they got a taste of during the pandemic.

“We would catch somebody. We would then have to release them. So even if we took them to the police department, released them from there, they were back with the ability to commit the same crime before we completed our paperwork.”

The veto session last from November 29th to December 1st.

Benjy Jeffords is a digital media production specialist at WSIU Public Broadcasting located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Contact WSIU Radio at 618-453-6101 or email wsiunews@wsiu.org
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