Board hears impact of HB163

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

The Henry County Board met Thursday January 21, via teleconference.

During the course of that meeting, a portion was dedicated to State's Attorney Cathy Runty, and Henry County Sheriff, Kerry Loncka, who took the opportunity to share potential impact of the measures passed during the recent Legislative Session in Springfield.

The 764 page bill that was distributed in the wee hours of the morning during the final days of the Legislative Session is also on State's Attorney Cathy Runty's desk, as she plows through the text to see what measures will be impacting the County in the days and weeks ahead, once the bill gets to the Governor's desk. Among the items she has identified, is the Local Records Act, which requires the County to maintain digital storage forever. This is for the mandated body cam footage, which will need to be stored in it's entirety, and any allegations of misconduct by law enforcement.

Fewer traffic violations may be fineable offenses, and the cash bail portion that goes to the County may well impact the General Fund. The level of which has yet to be determined.

Sheriff Loncka decried aspects of the bill, one of which was that victim based offenses had too many loopholes yet. Many changes were made to parole rules, many offenses will have parole times cut in half.

Sheriff Loncka participated in a recent Zoom meeting with the Illinois Sheriff's Association, regarding this legislation. The Association urged all the members to pressure the Governor and lawmakers to ask JB Pritzker to not sign the bill when it gets to him, and to request the lawmakers to rescind it. The Legislature has 30 days to deliver the bill to the Governor's desk. After that he has 60 days to sign it.

Qualified Immunity, which is an issue whereby officers can be held liable for their actions in split second decisions. Individual officers would need liability insurance in order to comply. “Officers are not going to be able to afford it. Basically it defunds the police.” summarized Loncka.

The bill will also change the way that crisis situations are handled. The example of a school shooting was used. If the perpetrator in a shooting situation, laid down the weapon and left the building, law enforcement could not use deadly force against him, even though he may have a concealed gun, or be heading off to another school.

“Small town police departments will likely cease to exist, “ stated Loncka. Officers would not be able to afford the personal insurance, and the County would have to increase the patrols to smaller towns, spreading their own numbers thinner.

Anonymous complaints would be allowed, even if they are baseless. The bill's taser policy goes counter to what the Sheriff's Association, and the manufacturer advise for the use of the tool. Officers will not be allowed to review footage of body cameras when filling out their reports.

States Attorney Runty and Sheriff Loncka urged the Board to send a letter to the Governor, urging him to veto this bill. The Board agreed, and a letter will be drafted and sent. All Board members voted in favor.

States Attorney Cathy Runty
Sheriff Kerry Loncka