State Senators Dale Righter (Mattoon), Karen McConnaughay (St. Charles), Chris Nybo (Elmhurst) and Chuck Weaver (Peoria) will serve on a recently announced Legislative Public Safety Group, after being appointed by Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady March 20.
The Legislative Public Safety Group is a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the Senate and House who are tasked with working with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Administration to develop legislative proposals to support various public safety issues. These include school safety, mental health, interstate crime prevention, repeat gun offenders, concentrated crime force deployments, and economic revitalization.
“This is an opportunity for both sides to come to the table, have meaningful discussions, and craft good public policy that will not only make our communities safer, but ones that are constitutional and don’t trample on the rights of our citizens,” Righter said. “I believe there are ways we can do that, and I am thankful this Legislative Public Safety Group will now force my Democrat colleagues to finally have that conversation instead of going it alone on legislation after legislation that doesn’t solve problems and only adds to the noise coming out of Springfield.
“There is no doubt that now more than ever public safety is on the minds of people across the state and nation,” said McConnaughay. “Recent tragedies have caused us to really think about public safety and what we’re doing to keep our residents safe. I look forward to serving on this bipartisan working group and working with my fellow colleagues to develop common-sense, reasonable measures that make our state a safer place to live.”
According to a media statement issued by the Governor, the group willwork with the administration to develop legislative proposals to support the following initiatives already underway in various agencies and units of the administration:
- School Safety – The Illinois Terrorism Task Force has convened a working group of officials from schools, police and fire agencies and they are developing strategies to protect against mass shootings. The Public Safety Group ought to be ready to suggest legislative actions to implement their recommendations.
- Mental Health – The Illinois Terrorism Task Force is also working to learn more about the complex intersection of mental health and gun violence, so parents, teachers, professionals and others can more effectively assess, detect, and report threats. The Public Safety Group will be valuable in ensuring the mental health community is fully engaged and legislation is sensitive to the complexities of dealing with diagnosis and treatment.
- Interstate Crime Prevention Network – A wide ranging law enforcement partnership with surrounding states is being explored to clamp down on illegal cross border trafficking and straw purchases, provide enhanced data collection and sharing, and establish protocols for threat detection, surveillance, and criminal apprehension. The Group should be in position to evaluate the arrangements as necessary.
- Repeat Gun Offenders – We must closely examine sentencing and bonding practices that allow repeat offenders to be released rather than incarcerated. Legislative remedies ought to be part of the Public Safety Group’s effort.
- Concentrated Crime Force Deployments – The state needs to expand its program of deploying law enforcement resources in high crime areas so that they can mobilize for all-out attacks on the crime industry. The Public Safety Group ought to be ready to endorse funding requirements for a larger force of state police officers.
- Economic Revitalization – The state’s most violent neighborhoods are also commercial deserts where the only discernible “business” is crime. As expanded force deployments push crime out of these neighborhoods, the state can direct focused business development resources on legitimate enterprise and job creation. The Group can accelerate the adoption of incentives to attract needed economic development programs.