Each day this week, we’ve looked at part of the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, which a lame duck General Assembly enacted in early January 2021 and became a central issue in 2022 campaigns for state offices.
The big takeaway on bail and qualified immunity reform was that legislation is never the sole concern, it doesn’t spring up from the void and implementation can take years. A less examined, yet more immediate, SAFE-T Act component is the way it increased powers of the Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ptb.illinois.gov).
To comply with the law, the board modified and created new officer misconduct reporting forms. Form R is the Professional Conduct Report, through which any local agency logs officer misconduct resulting in termination, suspension of 10 days or more or a resignation during investigation. For lesser situations, agencies, along with prosecutors and the public, can file Form Q, an officer complaint, which the standards board evaluates and assigns for investigation or referral. Form O is Notice of Arrest – all officers and their employing agencies must report whenever a police officer is arrested.
The board also had to create databases to log new information. One, for only government and justice system purposes, logs every officer’s certification status, employment history and misconduct record. Reviewing those records is required during the hiring process. There also are two pubic databases, one for tracking misconduct leading to officer decertification and another including all completed officer misconduct investigations but without identifying information.
This might seem onerous, but it’s well in line with Illinois standards. Consider the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website (idfpr.illinois.gov), which has a “file a complaint” link on the landing page leading to the agency’s four divisions: banking, financial institutions, real estate and professional regulation.
The last category covers 74 professions from acupuncturists to wholesale drug distributors. (My first act as an elected official would be to add zookeeper to the list, one of the many reasons I’ll never run for office.) Each month the IDFPR posts enforcement reports (September’s is 19 pages), in case you want to know who is surveying land without a license or whose barber teaching license is suspended for child support delinquency.
To see the many ways the ILETSB is implementing SAFE-T Act changes, visit tinyurl.com/SAFETslide to download a 35-page slideshow highlighting laws that took effect July 1, 2021, impacting police academy curriculum, and continuing education mandates effective Jan. 1, 2022.
Lawmakers should review their work for clarity and consult with police agencies regarding implementation, efficiency and impact. More paperwork alone solves nothing, but reformers would do well to both show results and demonstrate sincere willingness to work with police toward shared goals.