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Illinois police reform act will eliminate cash bail and make our streets less safe

With violent crime up across the nation, Chicago has become the picture of lawlessness: a haven for criminals and illegal activity. It is about to get worse. In January 2023, the Orwellian-named “SAFE-T Act” will go into effect. This legislation passed two years ago, and residents of Illinois are about to see the harsh realities of “police reform” packaged in a bill that eliminates cash bail almost entirely.  

In the dark of night, the Illinois Legislature forced through one of the most anti-public safety bills in the country. The now infamous SAFE-T Act, which was authored and whipped by our attorney general and signed without amendment by our governor.  

Recently, my comments about the bill went viral. The nation was rightly shocked to hear about the extreme measure that could have only passed in a state like Illinois where decades of one-party rule have bred contempt for transparency, constitutionality and moderation.  

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While the SAFE-T Act is just the latest example of the state’s politics, it may be the most dangerous. Our “leaders” codified lawlessness at a time when we need order and security in our communities. Illinois sits in the heart of the Midwest. Yet, it has become a lab for radical leftist ideology.  

The Jussie Smollett case was another embarrassment for Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. File: Jussie Smollett is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced on March 10, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Cassella-Pool/Getty Images)

The Jussie Smollett case was another embarrassment for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. File: Jussie Smollett is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced on March 10, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Cassella-Pool/Getty Images)
(Brian Cassella-Pool/Getty Images)

Following civil unrest, riots and violent protests during the summer of 2020, local and federal Illinois Democrats waged an aggressive anti-police campaign. Across the country, the media and Democrat leaders relentlessly fanned the flames of hostility toward police, leaving many in law enforcement totally demoralized.  

My opponent, Sean Casten was among the sponsors of the “Justice in Policing” Act, an anti-police bill that signaled to state and local democrats that it was time to push their radical agenda forward.  

According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, homicides increased by 30% nationally in 2020 alone, the largest single-year increase on record. The same study found that the number of murders reported in Illinois climbed from 781 in 2011 to 1151 in 2020 — a 47.4% increase.  

In Illinois, there were 9.1 murders for every 100,000 people in the state in 2020, compared to the national homicide rate of 6.5 per 100,000.  

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The rising homicide rates speaks for itself. We have seen some of the most significant increases in violent crime in American history. In Cook County, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has failed at implementing policies that fight crime and keep criminals off the streets. She has dropped more felony cases involving murder than her predecessor according to an analysis conducted by the Chicago Tribune. 

Refusing to keep repeat criminals with a history of violence behind bars allows anyone, at any time, to become the victim of an entirely preventable crime. For example, the low bail and soft-on-crime policies set by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office resulted in the release of a known criminal with a long list of violent crime charges. After being released, he drove his car into a group of people outside a Southside bar – killing three and injuring one. 

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We cannot continue this. There’s a simple solution: reduce crime by stopping public officials who are putting their personal political agenda ahead of protecting the public.  

As Mayor of Orland Park, I made sure my community didn’t follow the same path as Cook County. I stand up for our law enforcement officers and build partnerships between the private sector and police.  This has resulted in the lowest number of index crimes in the past 27 years. The only people who feel unsafe on our streets should be criminals 

Chicago police officers guard a crime scene after a shooting at the CTA Red Line station at 79th Street on Aug. 8, 2022.

Chicago police officers guard a crime scene after a shooting at the CTA Red Line station at 79th Street on Aug. 8, 2022.

Recently, Orland Park approved a memorandum of understanding that allows the creation of the first-of-its-kind partnership with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms that, when implemented, will allow us to go straight to federal prosecutors for certain crimes — bypassing Foxx’s experimental justice. Our laws must be enforced. Criminal penalties are not suggestions, they are in place to protect the public. 

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The rest of the country needs to beware of the dangerous path on which leftist politicians like Casten and Governor J.B. Pritzker have put us. It’s time we get serious about crime in our country.  

We are at a crisis point in Illinois. There is going to be a national conversation about crime next year. I am hopeful that other mayors will join me in leading on this issue.   

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