As crime continues to rise, Illinois police seek more funding, penalty enhancements | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – With the end of spring session looming at the Illinois statehouse, discussions continue on increasing funding for police and addressing rising crime.

“Across the state, crime is up,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday after celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the formation of the Illinois State Police. “We’ve seen this across the nation.”

Pritzker said the “pandemic recession” led some to “get involved in things they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re bringing order back, that we’re putting away the people who actually committed crimes,” Pritzker said.

An association of Illinois police chiefs says law enforcement needs more than $750 million in state funding to comply with growing demands, some of which were spurred on by a sweeping criminal justice and police regulation law that Democrats approved along party lines in early 2021..

Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said the request is the product of negotiations. The funding would be for technology, compliance with more training requirements and recruitment and retention.

“What our number is for agencies outside of Chicago is that there’s a 65% increase of retirements just in one year from [2020 to 2021], so it’s a reality out there,” Wojcicki told WMAY.

Asked about the funding request Tuesday, Pritzker said he supports increased funding for police.

“Probably the No. 1 thing that we can do to simply alleviate the burden on local police departments is to fund mental health and substance use treatment.”

Pritzker said by doing that, police won’t have to deal with such individuals as often.

State lawmakers are in session through April 8. They’re expected to approve the annual state budget by then.

A measure with bipartisan support being promoted in the meantime would create a new category of crime for organized retail theft.

Illinois Retail Merchants Association Executive Director Rob Karr said organized retail theft associated with smash and grab burglaries is impacting the entire state. A Senate amendment to House Bill 1091 would allow for prosecution of organized retail theft and has bipartisan support.

“In this day and age, I think bipartisan support is noteworthy in and of itself and we believe speaks to the wide understanding that organized retail crime is a pernicious issue that impacts us all and eats away at our well-being if not effectively addressed,” Karr said.

Separately, Wojcicki said law enforcement officials are looking for other penalty enhancements to address suspects fleeing police and more.

“And especially when you talk about carjackings, when you talk about auto thefts which are also on the rise,” Wojcicki said. “Breaking into cars is also on the rise.”

He said local police chiefs are looking to make it a residential burglary if someone breaks into a car on the curb or on a driveway.

It’s unclear what measures impacting crime and punishment will be passed before state lawmakers adjourn April 8.

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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