After Trump’s Executive Order, Police Licensing In Illinois Remains A Sticking Point

President Donald Trump’s new executive orders incentivize police certification programs and ban the use of chokeholds unless the life of an officer is threatened and it’s finding mostly good marks in Illinois with some eyeing additional legislative opportunities in Illinois.

Trump’s order he signed in the Rose Garden Tuesday also directs money for co-response by social workers and others to certain nonviolent police calls that deal with homelessness and substance abuse.

“Nobody needs a strong trustworthy police force more than those who live in distressed areas,” Trump said. “And nobody is more opposed to the small number of bad police officers, and you have them, they’re very tiny, I use the word ‘tiny,’ it’s a very small percentage but you have them but nobody wants to get rid of them more than the overwhelming number of really good and great police officers, some of them are standing with me today.”

Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress was with the president and the president handed him the pen he signed the executive order.

Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said he was initially concerned about a provision to track officers in a national database without allowing for due process.

“But that’s not at all what the president’s done here, he talks about that these situations would be available only on an aggregate basis and the only way you get into the database is after that due process has been established,” Kaitschuk said.

State Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, said Trump’s order was a step forward, but he said he wants more discussion on racial injustice, community policing and other issues.

“In the times that we’re living in, I’m confident that people have been addressing this to the president. It’s just getting him to speak on it at the end of the day and seeing it as something that’s gravely important for our nation,” West said.

If there’s a special session of the legislature before the November election, where there’d need to be supermajority votes to pass laws with immediate start dates, West hopes to focus more police certification.

“I’m hoping that since the president mentioned this and saying that this is needed it will make it to where we can fast track it even more so on a bipartisan level,” West said.

He doesn’t want to get mired down in other issues that may divert attention from police accountability.

One idea that has been floated in Illinois is a state license for police. Kaitschuk said Minnesota had that and it didn’t stop that universally condemned tragedy from taking place. He said that issue isn’t ripe yet.

“I have some serious concerns about how that would move forward so I’d want some really in-depth conversation before this organization and the sheriffs would get on board,” Kaitschuk said.

Kaitschuk said before passing something in a special session, state policymakers need to continue discussions on the core issues of societal problems.

It’s unclear if a special session will be called in Illinois. One could be initiated by the governor, or by the House Speaker or Senate President.

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

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