Oak Brook Village Trustees Urge Changes to Ill’s SAFE-T Law.

Oak Brook has joined several other Illinois state attorneys and communities in publicly speaking out against a law that will take effect January 1, 2023, that eliminates cash bail in the state.

The village council unanimously passed a resolution on October 25, supporting continued efforts to address public safety issues with the SAFE-T law.

The law was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker in early 2021. The part of it that comes into effect on January 1, 2023, the Pre-Trial Fairness Act, states that judges will no longer require anyone pays cash bail to get out of jail pending trial. Instead, judges will determine who is locked up, based on the offense and whether the accused is considered a flight risk or a security threat.

Among many other concerns, the law creates unreasonable legal standards for detention in forced crimes by eliminating cash bail, said Oak Brook Village Chairman Gopal Lalmalani.

“The law puts the public at risk by allowing dangerous criminals to escape incarceration, which may make victims fearful of cooperating with law enforcement, due to the possibility of retaliation from the offender who has was immediately released,” he said. “The Village of Oak Brook believes this law is not in the best interests of our residents and businesses.”

Lalmalani said the council decided to intervene now because Oak Brook residents were concerned about safety and the bail issue.

“With the upcoming elections (November 8), the position of candidates on this law could be used as a barometer of who to vote for,” he said.

Lalmalani said the resolution passed by the board did not completely reject the SAFE-T Act because parts of it, such as the statewide body camera requirement for the police by 2025, are good.

“The ruling party (the Democrats) has the supermajority,” he said. “They are more likely to accept amendments. They are unlikely to accept the total repeal of the law.

Prior to voting in favor of the resolution, some council members commented on the Act.

Board member Jim Nagle called the SAFE-T Act “the worst law enforcement bill in U.S. history.”

Another board member, Asif Yusuf, said he liked the body camera mandate, but had trouble with much of the law.

“This bill is not well thought out, it needs to be fixed,” he said. “It’s down to the people of Illinois and law enforcement.”

The resolution passed by Oak Brook says the SAFE-T Act was poorly drafted, nearly 800 pages, and passed in the middle of the night with little or no public debate.

“The state legislature has since made some changes to the SAFE-T Act, but there are still many provisions in the sweeping new law that are unenforceable and/or create public safety concerns, with the cumulative effect to encourage a culture of anarchy in the name of ‘reform’, the resolution reads.

The resolution also states that the law contains several elements that impact the village’s ability to most effectively provide policing services, including, but not limited to, unreasonably limiting the imposition of a cash bail, unreasonably limiting police discretion to make arrests, imposing unreasonable penalties, police certification and decertification standards, and imposing unreasonable accommodations.

Oak Brook calls in his resolution for state lawmakers to work with public safety officials and all community stakeholders to resolve remaining issues with the law.

Chuck Fieldman is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.

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