News - Kane County

Legislators, law enforcement officials discuss challenges of SAFE-T Act, set to take effect in January

KANE COUNTY — Four local legislators hosted a group of more than 50 representatives of Kane, McHenry and DeKalb county police and fire protection on Wednesday for a detailed discussion of the SAFE-T Act and other challenges facing emergency responders in the region, according to a news release.

Counties across the state are preparing for implementation of no cash bail, body camera and other mandates within the SAFE-T Act.

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Donald DeWitte (R-St. Charles), State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley), and State Reps. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) and Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) hosted the meeting, and Chief Judge Clint Hall of the 16th Judicial Circuit led a discussion about the SAFE-T Act, and provisions that are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

“I felt it was imperative that we get our emergency responders together to discuss issues that are important to them before we head to the legislative veto session. Especially as the implementation date for costly and controversial provisions of the so-called ‘SAFE-T Act’ approaches, we need to learn about challenges they are facing as they prepare to put the new measures in place,” DeWitte said in the release. “Across the board, we are hearing from local and county law enforcement that the costs of implementation are well beyond what municipalities and county government can afford.”

Kane County law enforcement is requesting an increase in staffing to address new timeline requirements for the review of body camera and police car camera footage, and additional staffing is also being requested to meet expedited timeline provisions for mandatory initial hearings within new judicial processes, according to the release.

“I heard from law enforcement prior to this legislation that we needed many areas of updating our system, but the realistic costs of implementation are astronomical,” Keicher stated in the release. “Kane County is building two new courtrooms, and in addition to added staff to view camera footage, they are looking to hire additional public defenders and court reporters to meet timeline requirements that clearly weren’t thought through very well. For example, they’re looking at holding court on weekends and holidays just to meet the mandates within the bill.”

“In a few months, many Illinois counties will have to have all provisions of the SAFE-T Act in place,” Syverson stated in the release. “Unfortunately, as these new mandates take effect, gaps, contradictions, and other unintended consequences will be identified. This is no way to address an issue as important as our criminal justice system. Best practices for lawmaking were disregarded, leaving our local law enforcement professionals largely in the dark about implementation and enforcement.”

While a discussion of the SAFE-T Act was of primary focus, the group also discussed the use of chemicals in firefighting, and staff recruitment, mental health response and overall funding challenges.

Officers and firefighters from Algonquin, Batavia, Carpentersville, DeKalb, East and West Dundee, Elburn, Elgin, Elgin Community College, Fox River/Countryside, Geneva, Gilberts, Hampshire, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Northern Illinois University, Pingree Grove, Sleepy Hollow, South Elgin, St. Charles, Sycamore, and Waubonsee Community College, from DeKalb, Kane, and McHenry counties, and EMS from Quadcom 9-1-1 and KaneComm 9-1-1 were in attendance.