Police accountability has become a mainstream concern, prompting federal and state lawmakers to turn a critical eye to the use of force by law enforcement and its implications for the communities that police officers protect and serve.
Residents all over the state are aware of historical inequalities in the use of force by law enforcement and how often the use of force seems inappropriate for the circumstances. To counter negative associations with law enforcement and push for more transparency and accountability, the Chicago Police Department has begun publishing use of force data on its website, going back through 2015.
Unfortunately, just making information about the use of force public does little to protect those interacting with law enforcement officers. State lawmakers have had to take additional steps to help protect the public from the unnecessary use of force and to reform how the state enforces the law.
What have lawmakers done for criminal justice reform?
In Illinois, state lawmakers have taken significant steps already in 2021 to help protect individuals from dangerous and possibly fatal encounters with law enforcement officers. Earlier in the year, the governor signed the SAFE-T (Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity – Today) Act into law. This law will make sweeping changes, from the elimination of cash bail to the requirement for body cameras.
Now, the state legislature has also passed House Bill 3443, adding clarification to the SAFE-T Act that could have an impact on future investigations into police misconduct.
What exactly will HB3443 do?
House Bill 3443, an amendment to the SAFE-T Act, gives officers facing certain accusations the right to use body camera footage or supplementary reports to respond to such accusations. The SAFE-T Act could have major implications for those who interact with law enforcement in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
While this bill may not inherently shift the nature of interactions between individuals and the police, it does at least pave the way for more accountability and better resolutions after the police use force against a person.
The better you know the rights that apply to yourself and police officers, the easier it will be for you to stand up for your rights during an interaction with police.