Police crisis builds in Illinois following ‘reform’ law: Nearly a dozen sheriffs retiring as 60% of cops eyeing an exit

A law enforcement crisis that is principally the result of Democratic ‘reform’ bills is building in Illinois as nearly a dozen sheriffs have resigned or are set to resign while three in five officers around the state are considering leaving the profession as well, according to a survey.

After state lawmakers passed a major criminal justice bill in January, five sheriffs in the state have retired early and an additional half-dozen will retire over the summer, Illinois Sheriff Association (ISA) executive director Jim Kaitschuk told The Epoch Times this week.

“This is the most I’ve seen. They’re quitting as a direct result of the legislation,” Kaitschuk told the outlet.

The law enforcement retirements and flight from the profession in general that are taking place in Illinois are among the first to be directly blamed on “progressive” laws enacted by Democrats who have increasingly claimed that criminal justice systems in America’s biggest cities, all of which have been governed for decades by Democrats, are systemically racist and unjust to persons of color.

Kaitschuk told the outlet that in a typical year, one or two sheriffs decide to call it quits before the end of their terms.

But there’s more bad news: On top of the nearly one dozen current or planned retirements, another 20 sheriffs in the state have opted against running for reelection when their terms expire.

“It’s sad because these are individuals that have given their life to a profession that they obviously love and are passionate about, and I hate to see them leave under the circumstances that they are,” Kaitschuk told The Epoch Times.

Cops throughout the state have lambasted the recently enacted SAFE-T Act, which made major changes to the Land of Lincoln’s criminal justice system. Those changes including a complete abolition of cash bail within two years; the creation of a statewide certification program for all police officers; mandating police bodycams by 2025 for all officers in the states; and allowing citizens to make anonymous complaints against officers.

When he signed it, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker praised the legislation as providing “true safety, true fairness, and true justice” to residents of the state. But it was ripped by five major law enforcement organizations throughout the state as “a monster bill” that will result in widespread targeting and punishment of police officers simply for performing their duties while encouraging and rewarding criminal behavior.

The law makes it a felony for police officers to neglect to turn on body cams while they are on duty. It also bans cops from reviewing body cam video before they write their police reports. Finally, language that seems to bar officers from pointing a taser at a suspect’s back, which is commonly recommended by taser manufacturers, is considered capricious and arbitrary.

But as bad an impact the SAFE-T Act is already having on law enforcement throughout Illinois, things may be about to get worse. Follow-up legislation to the law that is meant to address police concerns really does not, Kaitschuk told The Epoch Times, because the original intent of the SAFE-T Act remains the same.

In addition, he has concerns about additional police reform bills already being considered that would, among other, things, end qualified immunity for officers, leaving them wide open for a variety of costly and career-ending lawsuits.

“If that one became law, I would quit too,” Kaitschuk — who has been with Leland Grove Police Department since 2009 — told the outlet.

Still, the real law enforcement crisis in Illinois may just be over the horizon.

The nearly 34,000-strong Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, which consists of active and retired officers, conducted a member survey before Pritzker signed the SAFE-T Act in February: “Three in five officers said they were considering early retirement because of the bill,” The Epoch Times reported, adding, “Nearly half said they are looking for positions in other states or jobs outside policing.”

Added ILFOP president Chris Southwood, “Not only are we losing some of our best officers but it’s also very difficult to recruit new officers.”

Jon Dougherty

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