Republican state Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) says the one-year anniversary of the passage of House Bill 3653 has become noteworthy for all the wrong reasons.
“When Democrats defund, when Democrats damage and when Democrats demoralize the police, it has significant and grave consequences to the safety of our communities across the state of Illinois,” Spain said during a recent news conference. “I have never seen anything more reckless than the Democrats' passage of House Bill 3653.”
Also known as the SAFE-T Act, HB 3653 mandates body cameras for all officers and the end of the cash-bail system for all non-violent offenders, in addition to other measures.
“This day will be remembered for the passage of a damaging and dangerous bill that has created real consequences to the state of Illinois,” Spain said. “This legislation was introduced at 3 a.m. on Jan. 13 to contain more than 700 pages of legislative text. It was debated on the House Floor for 30 minutes with only two Republican legislators being recognized and allowed to ask questions about this bill. The bill was passed with the bare minimum number of votes — 60 votes in the House for final passage.”
Spain said everything critics of the bill warned might happen if the bill became law have come true.
“Crime has skyrocketed, carjackings are taking place at an out-of-control rate, retail theft is up, violent crime has risen, murders in the city of Chicago have reached over 800 murders in 2021,” he said. “In my hometown of Peoria, we have 34 homicides. When I served on the city council for 10 years in Peoria, if we came anywhere close to 20 homicides it was a citywide crisis. Now, that's just a regular day in the state of Illinois with the damage that has been created through this legislation.”
Since HB 3653 became law, a record numbers of officers have also decided to resign, with more than half of the state’s 102 counties now having a vacancy in the sheriff's office.
“Illinois has taken a very bad and dangerous turn for the worse and so today we are here spreading the message, adding emphasis and urgency that the way that we go forward is to repeal House Bill 3653,” Spain said. “We must repeal the SAFE-T Act, which has been damaging and dangerous to the safety of the people of the state of Illinois.
State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) is among the Republican lawmakers now pushing legislation to do just that.
Caulkins’ SAFE-T Act amendment bill seeks to increase the penalties for criminals who use a gun in an aggravated carjacking. That bill will also require a district attorney and a judge to submit a explanation if they choose to allow a suspect to plead a gun case down to a lesser charge.
“If someone gets arrested, a felon in possession of a gun, or illegal discharge of a gun, or using the gun in commission of a crime, what we’re saying in this bill ... the public has a right to know why,” Caulkins said. “If they plead that out, and say we’re just getting you for aggravated battery and drop the gun charges, the public ought to know why that happened.”
The bill now sits in the Criminal Justice Committee and Caulkins said he’s unsure what could come next.
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