Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Wednesday applauded the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of his legislation to improve the police certification and decertification process as part of what he calls his ongoing effort to advocate for policies that make lasting, systemic change to policing in Illinois. The Legislature also approved the Attorney General’s proposals to conduct pattern-and-practice investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement and improve services for survivors of crimes.
House Bill 3653, as amended, was sponsored by Sen. Elgie Sims and Rep. Justin Slaughter and includes Raoul’s proposal that focuses on three key areas for reform: creating uniformity for officers and departments across the state, promoting professionalism in law enforcement, and increasing transparency. HB 3653 next will go to the governor for final approval.
“These certification reforms are the result of collaboration between my office, law enforcement, advocates and the sponsors – Rep. Justin Slaughter and Sen. Elgie Sims. Senator Tim Bivins began this journey years ago, and I am proud that today we have reached our destination and will be implementing meaningful reform that will promote professionalism, increase transparency and restore the public’s trust in law enforcement,” Raoul said. “I applaud the tireless effort of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to address criminal justice reform in Illinois in a comprehensive manner.”
Currently, the ways in which law enforcement and state’s attorneys investigate and take action in response to officer misconduct vary from department to department. Additionally, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) can de-certify an officer only in the event of a felony conviction and a limited list of misdemeanors. Raoul’s measure will improve the police certification and de-certification process in Illinois by creating uniformity during the review process to allow for investigations of serious officer misconduct that may not automatically lead to decertification but still warrants a review of the officer’s actions. The legislation also promotes professionalism by creating a mandatory reporting system to ensure officers are in compliance with state professionalism standards. Additionally, Raoul’s measure will increase transparency by improving information sharing between hiring departments, departments and prosecutors, and the ILETSB and the public.
The General Assembly also approved Attorney General Raoul’s proposal to give the Illinois Attorney General’s office clear authority under state law to investigate and resolve patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing by local and state agencies. Raoul previously led discussions with Congressional leadership to ensure federal law gives state attorneys general authority to conduct investigations into patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 was amended as a result, and the legislation was passed last year by the U.S. House of Representatives – but was not passed by the Senate. Raoul’s proposal codifies the Illinois Attorney General’s authority to conduct such investigations in state law.
Additionally, the Legislature passed Raoul’s improvements to the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Program that would enable the Attorney General’s office to more efficiently administer benefits in order to make resources more accessible to survivors. Modernizing the program not only will allow the Attorney General’s office to better meet crime victims’ immediate needs, but also will contribute to breaking the cycle of community violence.
The Civil Rights Bureau enforces state and federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination in Illinois and advocates for legislation to strengthen those laws. Raoul encourages people who need to file a complaint to do so online or by calling the Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692.
Attorney General Raoul encourages individuals who have been impacted by a violent crime to call his office’s Crime Victims Assistance Line at 1-800-228-3368 or visit the Attorney General’s website.