DuPage County

DuPage County predicts spending $63 million on police reform mandates over next 5 years

A sweeping criminal justice reform bill signed last month by Gov. J.B. Pritzker could cost DuPage County an additional $63 million over the next five years, according to early estimates from agency leaders.

New statewide mandates related to body cameras, law enforcement training, pretrial release and the elimination of cash bail are among the sections of House Bill 3653 expected to have the greatest effect on county finances and operations, officials said last week during a special presentation before the county board’s judicial and public safety committee.

Nearly $25.7 million of the total impact is designated for capital expenses, a majority of which would go toward the expansion and renovation of county facilities to accommodate additional staff members and services. Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Martynowicz said a variety of funding options make those one-time costs “probably the easiest” to cover.

But annual salaries, benefits, data storage and other operating expenses “are a little more problematic” in that they could lead to a 10% to 15% increase in the county’s $180 million general fund budget, he said.

“Determining how to fund this and what the revenue sources may be, or cuts in other areas, will be extremely difficult,” Martynowicz said.

Backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, the legislation aims to re-imagine public safety in Illinois through provisions such as abolishing cash bail, changing use-of-force standards and overhauling the police certification process, proponents say. But law enforcement officials statewide have expressed concerns that sections of the 764-page document could lead to unintended consequences.

Nearly $25.7 million of the total impact is designated for capital expenses, a majority of which would go toward the expansion and renovation of county facilities to accommodate additional staff members and services. Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Martynowicz said a variety of funding options make those one-time costs “probably the easiest” to cover.

But annual salaries, benefits, data storage and other operating expenses “are a little more problematic” in that they could lead to a 10% to 15% increase in the county’s $180 million general fund budget, he said.

“Determining how to fund this and what the revenue sources may be, or cuts in other areas, will be extremely difficult,” Martynowicz said.

Backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, the legislation aims to re-imagine public safety in Illinois through provisions such as abolishing cash bail, changing use-of-force standards and overhauling the police certification process, proponents say. But law enforcement officials statewide have expressed concerns that sections of the 764-page document could lead to unintended consequences.

Sheriff James Mendrick says his office alone anticipates spending $15.4 million through 2025 to bring the law enforcement and corrections bureaus into compliance. That includes equipping 115 deputies with body cameras by next year, implementing additional training, providing mental health screenings and updating its uniform crime reporting processes, he said.

The new law, known as the SAFE-T Act, takes effect July 1, though certain components have delayed timelines for implementation.

To accommodate the extra work, Mendrick plans to hire five new deputies for bond court, two records clerks, a warrants clerk, and a sergeant to oversee the body camera program. Additional expenses also stem from increased phone time allowed for inmates, extended hospital stays and more educational programs for pregnant detainees and an operational shift within the correctional center, he added.

The body camera mandate also has a significant impact on the state’s attorney’s and public defender’s offices, officials said, both of which anticipate a need for additional staff members.

Hiring 27 assistant state’s attorneys, plus nine support staff members, could be necessary to review the footage, manage the program, shield and redact the video, respond to freedom of information requests and analyze the digital evidence, State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. Personnel costs account for $10.7 million of an estimated $11.1 million five-year-impact on his budget.

In Public Defender Jeff York’s department, an initial proposal called for hiring 34 new lawyers and seven other full-time employees, for whom the total salary and benefits would cost nearly $4 million annually. Some of those attorneys would help cover the additional time needed to prepare and participate in pretrial detention hearings, which will soon be required for most criminal cases, he said.

Five-year cost projections in response to House Bill 3653 are estimated at $9.5 million for the public defender’s office, $3.9 million for probation and court services, $355,111 for information technology, and $293,087 for the circuit court, according to the presentation.

The county also is expected to see a $2.3 million hit in loss of revenue from commissary funds, bail bond fees, restitution to crime victims and anti-crime disbursements, officials said.

In addition to purchasing body cameras and hiring an engineering firm to move forward with building expansions, county officials say the next steps include refining potential expenses and monitoring any future trailer bills that could alter the legislation.