Senator KoehlerPEORIA – The Illinois State Legislature passed a measure that would reshape the state’s criminal justice system Wednesday.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted in favor of this historic piece of legislation, which represents the culmination of months of public hearings, hundreds of hours of testimony and negotiations with law enforcement, experts in law enforcement and criminal justice reform public policy, and residents throughout the state.

“After reading the bill and consulting with local government leaders, I knew there would need to be several changes before I could support it,” Koehler said. “I asked the sponsor to drop removal of qualified immunity, financial penalties for local governments that could not afford to provide body cameras for officers, and the removal of collective bargaining rights. The negotiations to accomplish these things were difficult, but in the end I believe we arrived at a solution that will increase trust and public safety without harming honest law enforcement officers.”

In the legislation’s initial draft, officers rather than their departments could have been found personally financially liable for misconduct due to the removal of qualified immunity – a measure that Koehler opposed. Additionally, Koehler, a former local government official and staunch supporter of the labor movement, worked to ensure no county or municipal government would see less funding and no union would see collective bargaining rights reduced as a result of this legislation.

“Given the devastating events that took place over the past year and decades prior, we need to take concrete steps to bridge our current divide,” Koehler said. “I voted for this legislation, because I believe it will help build trust between the members of our community and law enforcement while increasing public safety.