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Controversial police reform bill passes Illinois Senate; heads to House

SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) -- A controversial police reform bill passes 32-23 in the Illinois Senate early Wednesday morning during the legislature's lame duck session. The bill now heads to the Illinois House.

Lawmakers approved the Criminal Justice Reform Act (House Bill 3653, formerly House Bill 163) proposed by the Legislative Black Caucus, just before 5:00 a.m.

The bill would eliminate cash bail, require body cameras for all departments, reforms qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, and changes police misconduct record keeping.

Many law enforcement groups and Republican leaders have voiced strong opposition to the bill.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard voiced his opposition to News 3 in an interview last week.

"It's important to note that while we support proper reform, there are things that are deal breakers," said Bullard. "Anything that threatens public safety, anything that threatens officer safety in reform, we will oppose."

The latest version of the criminal law overhaul bill, 764 pages, was introduced after 3:00 a.m., giving lawmakers less than two hours to debate and read over it before a vote.

Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) said in a statement sent to News 3:

"In the early hours of the morning, Democrat lawmakers dumped a 700-page criminal justice reform proposal on our desks, leaving us no time to review the measure in its entirety, seek public input or gather law enforcement feedback. This bill is a dangerous proposal that makes it easier for offenders to commit violent crimes, eliminates cash bail and endangers the safety of our citizens.

"I stand with the men and women of our law enforcement who bravely serve each-and-every day. I am beyond disappointed that this is how such a vitally important proposal was rammed through the Senate chamber, without full consideration of the consequences this bill will have on our law enforcement profession and the wellbeing and safety of our communities.

"This is not how reform should be done and this is not a bill I support."

Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) posted on Facebook saying:

At 4:45AM the Democrat's Criminal Justice Omnibus Bill passed the Illinois Senate. I voted NO. Our law enforcement community deserved a full, transparent debate during a regular session of the General Assembly. I hope the Illinois House rejects this legislation that makes the law enforcement mission more dangerous and difficult.

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