A local sheriff has come out with some criticism over House Bill 3653 which was passed earlier this week by the Illinois General Assembly and implements numerous changes for statewide law enforcement. Here is what Sherrif Dwight Beard released via the sheriff’s office Facebook page on Friday:
I have been asked what issues or problems I see with the recently passed HB 3653. One major issue involves what law enforcement can do on behalf of victims. There are several offenses in the Illinois Compiled Statutes that are class B and C misdemeanors for which we will no longer be able to make a physical arrest, unless the suspect poses an obvious threat to the community or any person (page 326 of HB 3653). An officer’s discretion to make an arrest is an important tool utilized every day, and I believe the vast majority of situations can be resolved without taking someone to jail. However, many situations benefit from an officer taking an offender into custody and restoring peace.
Scenario #1: A person enters onto your property. You tell them to leave and they refuse. You call the police, we tell the person to leave and they again refuse. This normally constitutes trespass (class B misdemeanor), for which we can no longer make an arrest. We issue the offender a citation and give them a court date within 21 days. If they still refuse to leave we cannot physically remove them, so instead we leave. We have taken enforcement action, but the problem is unresolved and the victim is left to live with the issue.
Scenario #2: You begin receiving repeated phone calls from a subject, perhaps dozens or hundreds in a day. They could be immediate hang ups, harassing or lewd in nature. As mentioned in Scenario #1, once a suspect has been identified all we can do is issue a citation for Harassment by Telephone (class B misdemeanor) and give them a court date within 21 days. While you the victim have been harassed, perhaps made to feel unsafe, and inconvenienced by having your phone overloaded with meaningless (or worse) calls, the offender has only received a citation and could potentially continue this course of action with fear of only repeated citations.
This scenario would play out for numerous other offenses, some of which include Interference with Emergency Communications, Assault, Computer Tampering, Residential Picketing and Disorderly Conduct.
Additionally, in HB 3653 a person can no longer be arrested for Resisting or Obstruction a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee (a class A misdemeanor) unless the underlying offense made the person subject to custodial arrest to begin with (pages 274 & 275 of HB 3653).
HB 3653 is 764 pages long and was passed in a week. It institutes numerous changes, some minor and some sweeping. I’m concerned that the effects of many of these changes weren’t well thought out and there will be negative unintended consequences. I would encourage every interested citizen to read the bill and reflect on how you think it will affect your public safety.
Sheriff Dwight Baird