Bureau County Board and Sheriff James Reed discuss possible resolution opposing the SAFE-T Act

No action was officially taken on this subject during Tuesday’s meeting

The Bureau County Courthouse, built in 1937, is at 700 S. Main St. in Princeton.

The Bureau County Board discussed potential action regarding a statement in favor of repealing Illinois House Bill 3653, otherwise known at the SAFE-T act.

This bill includes a measure that would eliminate cash bail in favor of a pre-trial detention method that prioritizes aspects such as the level of danger a suspect poses rather than their ability to post bail. The exact parameters for pre-trial detention will be determined by the courts. That measure takes effect in January 2023.

The original SAFE-T Act also changed use-of-force guidelines for law enforcement, created a new police certification system and expanded detainee rights.

While no action was officially taken on the subject, the board, along with Bureau County Sheriff James Reed, discussed an official board statement that may come during the April meeting.

“There are some good items in that bill, but mostly it’s the bail reform act and also the limitations that it’s putting on our police officers,” Reed said. “It also wasn’t really discussed with law enforcement or with the state’s attorneys.”

The board was presented a resolution that was passed in Iroquois County, which calls for the full repeal of the SAFE-T Act.

Bureau County Sheriff Jim Reed

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Reed said. “There’s a lot of feelings about this house bill. Both of our representatives were opposed to this. A lot of legislative changes were made and they were made to benefit the bigger counties such as Cook and Will Counties.”

Reed stated that he believes this bill did not take into consideration some of the problems that small counties, such as Bureau, would have with the bill.

Reed also mentioned that there have been several other counties that have followed suit in opposing this bill, such as a resolution that was passed during the Putnam County Board’s February meeting.

“This would be non-binding, it’s just a statement saying that we don’t want our legislators making laws overnight that are going to affect the county,” Reed said. “(This bill) would have a negative impact on us. We don’t play by the same rules that Chicago does.”

Reed stated that the Illinois Sheriffs Association has been opposed to the bill and they believe the best way to fix it would be to repeal the whole thing.

Reed wanted to remind the board members that police expenses and training costs would all go up under this bill, creating a bigger burden to the county board.

Board Member Dan Rabe stated that he wanted the county to draw up a resolution of their own for possible approval at the next meeting.

Board Member Mary Jane Marini encouraged the board to research the bill and the resolution that Iroquois County approved in order to make their best decision.

“You’re repealing something that you’re not totally aware of,” Marini said.

“Then vote against it next time,” Rabe said. “We can’t go down line item by line item, we don’t have that authority. I’m with the Sheriff, it needs to start over at best.”

Currently the county plans to prepare a resolution that could be approved by the board during the upcoming April meeting.