House Republicans make public safety concerns a priority in new legislative package

At a Capitol press conference on Thursday, House Republican State Representatives Patrick Windhorst, David Friess, Dan Ugaste, and John Cabello laid out a bold legislative package aimed at improving public safety, recruiting and retaining police officers and other law enforcement officials, and providing assistance to victims of violent crime.

“There is a concerning trend we see here in Illinois where criminals are treated better than law-abiding citizens and as leaders, we cannot continue to jeopardize the safety of our communities,” said Cabello.

“The Truth in Public Safety working group was formed at the beginning of this General Assembly. We got to work right away to put together a strong and meaningful package of legislative reforms,” said Windhorst who leads the working group. “The bills we are highlighting today will improve public safety, hold criminals accountable, and provide needed support to our police officers and law enforcement.” 

Since the inception of the Truth in Public Safety Working group in 2023, the group has met with law enforcement groups, retired judges, state’s attorneys and other stakeholders to develop the legislative package. Last year, many legislators on the Republican side held roundtables with law enforcement officers and prosecutors. Windhorst says the package unveiled in Springfield on Thursday proves that Republican lawmakers took the concerns of law enforcement seriously and crafted legislation to address continuing issues.

“I’m honored to work with my colleagues in the working group as we strive toward a common goal, said Friess. Our communities deserve to be safe, and our law-abiding citizens deserve to feel secure. The legislative package put forth is a crucial step towards achieving these goals.”

The legislative package focuses on supporting and protecting crime victims, giving judges wider discretion to detain people charged with felonies, and recruiting and retaining law enforcement while ensuring they are able to do their jobs.

Legislation introduced by House Republicans serving on the Truth in Public Safety working group include:

  • HB 5120 – Widens the possible detention net to all felonies and also establishes the burden of proof at a detention hearing to preponderance of the evidence.
  • HB 5121 – Calls for the revocation of pre-trial release when the defendant is charged with an offense while on release.
  • HB 5126 – Restores the process for a court to issue a warrant for a defendant’s failure to appear in court.
  • HB 5131 – Sets up a timeline for the Department of Human Services to remove someone from county jail within 20 days if they have been found unfit to stand trial, and requires reimbursement to the county if the person is held past the 20 days. The bill is aimed at providing necessary mental health services to those individuals who have been found mentally unfit to stand trial.
  • HB 5133 – Allows for the creation of a county co-responder model to work with social workers to assist victims in need of mental or behavioral health services. The bill would ensure that police officers are responding to emergency calls and that social workers or behavioral health services workers would act as a partner with law enforcement, not a replacement.

“We stand ready to assist the House and Senate Democrat supermajorities in restoring law and order and safe communities throughout Illinois through these changes,” Windhorst said. “We do not have to accept the status quo of rising crime, violence in our communities, and the loss of our police officers. We can get to work together today to make important changes to protect our communities, stop crime, and save lives.”