Governor Bruce Rauner continued passing new reforms this week, this time passing a set of laws that impact police procedures and civilian data collection.
The reform, known as the Police and Community Improvement Act, is a compilation of more than 200 pieces of legislation intended to improve current police practices. Not surprisingly, the measure passed the House and the Senate by a wide margin before it was signed into law by the governor on Wednesday.
Likely inspired by the incident in New York City involving Eric Garner, one of the biggest changes in the reform is the elimination of the chokehold technique by police to subdue a suspect, although it can still be used if an officer determines deadly force is necessary. Under the Illinois Criminal Code, deadly force is allowed if an officer needs to defend themselves, another person or property.
Another portion of the reform hopes to tackle the messy issue of police profiling and bias. The new measure states that training guidelines will be implemented to help officers become more aware of potential cultural biases during their daily duties. The reform also requires police departments to submit monthly and annual reports on area crime data. The goal of the reports is to determine where certain activities, like homicides, police firearm discharges and arrest-related deaths are occurring so intervention measures can be implemented.
Police Body Camera Regulations
Although the bill doesn’t require officers to wear body cameras, it does specify how long the cameras should be worn, when they are to be turned on, and how long the recordings should be stored. The measure states:
- Body cameras must be turned on 30 seconds before an encounter with a citizen, if possible.
- The cameras must be able to record for at least 10 hours.
- Cameras must be on at all times when responding to a call.
- An officer must inform citizens when they are being recorded.
- Body camera footage will be stored for 90 days before being erased, unless it is being used as part of an investigation or it has been flagged as a complaint.
Because of their price, only a limited number of police departments have access to body cameras, but the state hopes to up that number by collecting money from bad-behaving motorists. The measure added a $5 increase to all traffic citations, and the added revenue will go towards funding body camera programs.
The new measures will go into effect on January 1, 2016.