Page 29 - February 2021
P. 29

 Ill Bill
With the passage of HB3653, Illinois legislators seemed oblivious to what really matters to Chicago Police Officers
By Mitchell Krugel
Explain to the families of 7-year-old Natalia Wallace or 14-year-old Veraldo Jones how the Illinois General Assembly passing the politically motivated criminal justice reform bill could have prevented their children from being shot and killed on July 4, 2020. Justify how licensing and decertification of po- lice officers that is part of House Bill 3653 could have stopped the spree in which four children in the city were gunned down during a 10-day period at the end of June and into July.
Illuminate for Chicago Police Officers how the permission of anonymous complaints being filed against them, as the bill has allowed, could have reduced the 3,261 shootings in the city during 2020 (41 percent more than the previous year), the 4,033 shooting victims (36 percent more than in 2019) or the 769 murders (40 percent increase over 2019). Debate – at least – whether the elimination of cash bail would have lessened the violence on Father’s Day Weekend 2020 when 102 people in Chicago were shot, 13 fatally, five of them children.
That HB3653 was hastily pushed through at the 11th hour – figuratively and actually – of the General Assembly’s lame duck session in January, literally under the cloak of darkness when a new, nearly 800-page version of it was issued in the middle of the night, was not the most upsetting aspect of this dangerous legislation. As Lodge 7 President John Catanzara declared that the bill showed little or no consideration for victim’s rights, it really went above and beyond that.
“To me, it absolutely makes the city less safe,” Catanzara ex- pounded. “The no-cash bail gives violent criminals the ability to roam the streets and do more crimes before they have their first trial.”
Given the Democratic and Republican dichotomy for and against the bill, many elected officials didn’t want to applaud
or pan, especially with many battles looming over implemen- tation of the laws. However, Republican Representative Brad Stephens, whose 20th district includes the far northwest side of the city, was not one of those.
“Fortunately, it was watered down, but it’s still not a great piece of legislation,” Stephens noted. “I’m still trying to get a grasp on exactly what’s in there, but it seems like we’re turning more and more into a lawless society. We keep damaging the law enforcement profession. We’re asking cops to fight a five- alarm fire with a squirt gun.”
The watering down Stephens referred to recognizes how two of the bill’s most damaging and demeaning aspects – elimi- nation of all collective bargaining rights except for wages and benefits and the elimination of qualified immunity – did not make the version that went up for vote in the Senate and the House. Even so, the fact that the House vote just made the 60 reps needed to pass seems to verify the volatility that will for- ever tag HB3653.
What really matters here to Chicago Lodge 7 members is how the bill now thrusts them into independent investigations for any action that could lead to their decertification – the death penalty for their careers. What really matters to Chicago Police Officers is how the bill seems to use the push for greater social justice to de-emphasize the importance of knowing right from wrong. What really matters is how the legislative process left the General Assembly even more fractured and how Lodge 7 members now must step up their political action more than ever.
What really matters is how Chicago Police Officers can effec- tively do their jobs in the wake of this “reform” and have any

   27   28   29   30   31