Why suburban police, lawmakers want to make fleeing from cops a felony

In his more than two decades as a law enforcement officer, Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres has witnessed plenty of reckless behavior and dangerous driving on suburban roads.

But nothing compares to what he’s seen over the past few years of what officials are calling an “epidemic” of drivers fleeing from police, often at high speeds that put everyone on the roads in peril.

“The drastic increase in fleeings we've seen in recent years is a level of lawlessness I haven't seen in my 23 years in this profession,” Arres said at a press conference last week promoting legislation aimed at deterring such behavior and punishing those who commit it.

Senate Bill 1807, introduced by Senate Minority Leader John Curran of Downers Grove and co-sponsored by several fellow suburban lawmakers, would make fleeing by car from the police a Class 4 felony, instead of the misdemeanor it is today.

Senate Republican Leader John Curran discusses his legislation last week that would make fleeing from police in a vehicle a felony. With him, from left, are Lemont Police Chief Marc Maton, Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres and state Sen. Seth Lewis. Courtesy of Illinois Senate GOP

That means anyone found guilty would face up to three years in a state prison, instead of today’s maximum of 364 days in the county jail. Aggravated fleeing — cases that involve an injury or excessive property damage — would be bumped to a Class 3 felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

“This is not a misdemeanor-level type of action. This is incredibly dangerous,” Curran said. “This not only puts motorists at heightened risk (of harm), this also puts pedestrians at heightened risk. So it really needs a more serious approach.”

Authorities say the driver of this Kia sedan was fleeing police investigating a retail theft in Vernon Hills in March 2023 when it crashed in Mettawa. The front-seat passenger was impaled by a wooden fence post, authorities said. Courtesy of Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Arres said the data supports the need for harsher penalties and greater deterrence. Prior to 2020, he said, Naperville police would experience anywhere from 15 to 30 incidents of fleeing and eluding a year. Since then, cases have risen into the hundreds — with a high of 137 one year.

The DuPage County State's Attorney’s Office has documented a 151% increase in these types of cases in the county since 2020, he added.

“This trend is extremely alarming and highly dangerous — dangerous to every citizen and police officer out there,” Arres said. “When someone flees from the police, they're not stopping for red lights. They're not stopping for stop signs. And they're certainly not obeying our speed limits.”

Authorities say three people in this car were fleeing police in February 2020 when it crashed into a Rosemont police SUV and then a utility pole. One officer was injured, police said. Courtesy of the Rosemont Public Safety Department

And with many of those fleeing already facing the possibility of criminal charges, the threat of an additional misdemeanor even if caught isn’t much of a deterrence, said Lemont Police Chief Marc Maton.

“They have a strong incentive to flee, and we need to take that away,” said Maton, who’s also president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

State Sen. Seth Lewis, a Republican from Bartlett, said the measure has the backing of the chiefs association, suburban police departments and the Illinois Municipal League.

“This is a problem that I believe should have a statewide solution to address it,” Lewis said.

What’s next for the bill is unclear. The legislation last month was sent to the Senate’s Assignments Committee where it remains with dozens of other proposals. The General Assembly’s spring session is due to adjourn May 24.

That’s one deep sleep

A Palatine man who couldn’t get a jury to believe he was sleepwalking when he broke into a Mount Prospect home in 2021 and assaulted one of its residents didn’t have any better luck with a state appeals court.

In a unanimous decision late last month, the First District Appellate Court of Illinois rejected Zenovii Bliusovych’s request they throw out his conviction for home invasion and aggravated battery, along with his nine-year prison sentence.

Bliusovych’s appeal argued that Cook County prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew what he was doing Nov. 12, 2021. That’s when police say he entered a Mount Prospect condominium about 1:30 a.m. and got into a violent altercation with a resident before fleeing.

His appeal cited testimony from two doctors who are sleep experts supporting his sleepwalking defense. One of them opined that Bliusovych has a sleepwalking disorder, was sleepwalking at the time of the break-in and was not consciously aware of his conduct that day.

Zenovii Bliusovych

Prosecutors, however, argued that if Bliusovych had been sleepwalking when he first entered the home, he sure was awake when a male resident punched him several times moments later. Or when he then choked that man. And then when he fled the condo after a second resident called 911.

“There was sufficient evidence that directly contradicted Bliusovych's sleepwalking defense and could have led the jury to reject both his defense and the doctors’ testimonies,” Justice LeRoy K. Martin Jr. wrote.

Bliusovych, 33, is scheduled for parole in about two years, state prison records show.

Cops up top

If you look up while passing by a Dunkin’ Donuts next Friday, May 17, you may spot an unexpected sight: a police officer or several standing atop the building.

It’s part of the annual Cop on a Rooftop event pairing police officers and Dunkin’ Donuts across the state to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois.

Taking place from 5 a.m. to noon, officers will seek donations to support Special Olympics athletes and events. Make a donation, and get a coupon for a free doughnut. And if that donation is $10 or more, you’ll receive a Law Enforcement Torch Run/ Dunkin’ branded tumbler (while supplies last) and a coupon for a free medium hot or iced coffee.

For a list of locations, visit

  Police officers across the suburbs will climb atop the roofs of Dunkin’ Donuts next Friday morning, May 17, to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois. Paul Valade/, 2019

· Have a question, comment or story idea? Email us at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.