The Illinois Legislature Amends Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Law

Illinois’ General Assembly passed legislation amending and in some cases reversing the changes in their Police reform legislation. The changes addressed concerns about a sweeping criminal justice reform law that came into effect in 2020. This legislation will amend the SAFE-T Act, which was signed into law in February. The SAFE-T Act required a new police certification system, ended cash bail, imposed body camera mandates, and changed the guidelines for police officers’ use of deadly force. Law enforcement groups across the state oppose the SAFE-T Act because they feel it imposes unreasonable expectations on police officers.

The Changes Made to the SAFE-T Act

The SAFE-T Act prohibits law enforcement officers from using their body cameras or recordings when writing police reports. The amendment will allow officers to file a supplementary incident report while accessing body camera footage. The officer must get his or her supervisor’s permission to do so.

The Use of Force by Police Officers

The amendment would also change the law related to a police officer’s use of deadly force. The SAFE-T Act limited an officer’s use of deadly force to two different scenarios:

  • When the officer believes that they need to use deadly force to prevent death or harm to themselves or another person, or
  • A suspect who just committed a violent felony cannot be caught at a later time, is attempting to escape, is likely to cause great harm to someone else, and only deadly force can stop them

The amendment that recently passed in the legislature removed the word “just.” As a result, officers can now use force when a violent felony has been committed, whether or not the violent felony “just” happened. With the amendment, police officers only need to believe that deadly force can stop the suspect and that the suspect is likely to greatly injure another person. The amendment also adds that the police officer’s ability to use deadly force against the suspect ends after the threat of bodily harm to the officer or another person ends.


Under the SAFE-T Act, chokeholds were considered to be deadly force. That law defines chokeholds as any direct pressure to the throat, airway, or windpipe. The new amendment makes an exception. Police officers can use a chokehold that is not intended to reduce the intake of air. For example, a police officer can use a headlock, wrapping an arm around the suspect’s forehead or chin.

Law Enforcement Misconduct

The amendment also changes the law regarding law enforcement misconduct. Under the SAFE-T Act, officers can be charged with a Class 3 felony for misrepresenting an incident or withholding knowledge during an investigation. The amendment states that a police officer must have “knowingly and intentionally misrepresented or withheld knowledge of the facts” with “the intent to obscure the prosecution or defense of an individual” to be convicted of a class 3 felony.

Contact a Schaumburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. You can see defense attorney Thomas Glasgow on local Chicago news when he fought to get a former police officer’s conviction vacated. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.

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