Naperville park board approves resolution urging Pritzker to veto police reform bill

The Naperville Park District board of commissioners is urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto a major criminal justice reform bill, saying the legislation as it stands would directly affect park police and their ability to keep the community safe.

The board on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution denouncing the General Assembly's passage of House Bill 3653 in the final hours of a lame-duck session earlier this month. In the measure, park officials contend the legislative process was "fatally flawed" and lacked adequate input from law enforcement and municipal organizations statewide.

The goal is to encourage greater collaboration among all interested parties, improve the bill and create a more realistic opportunity to train police on the new requirements, park district attorney Derke Price said.

"In the resolution were only the things that really would affect the day-to-day ability of the Naperville Park District's police agency to do its job," he said. "This conversation deserves a better vetting, a more full conversation of the law."

A similar measure was considered last week by the Naperville City Council but failed in a 4-5 vote, with opponents saying they don't believe it's the city's place to weigh in on state law.

Park commissioners took the opposite stance. Because the bill would directly impact its police force, which is separate from the municipal department, Commissioner Josh McBroom said, "it's certainly within reason that we consider this resolution."

Several community members weighed in on the issue Thursday, some of whom asked the park board to reject the measure and instead voice their support for statewide criminal justice reform.

"(The bill) is not against police. We all need police, and we all recognize that, but there is a population that is suffering," resident Antonia Harlan said. "Brown and Black people are disproportionately killed by the police for reasons that are unjustified, and I think this bill introduces parts that will help to rectify those pieces."

Park commissioners acknowledged the importance of the national conversation surrounding police reform. But while some objectives within the legislation are "certainly laudable," board President Mike Reilly said, others would hinder the park police's ability to protect facilities, residents and recreational participants.

If signed by the governor, the bill would eliminate cash bail by 2023, mandate body cameras by 2025, and make it easier to decertify and fire problematic officers, among other provisions. The Naperville park resolution highlights changes to use-of-force rules, the allowance of anonymous complaints and pretrial release provisions as being among the "most dangerous portions of the law."

"I do believe police reform is needed," Commissioner Marie Todd said. "I think this bill just needs more time. It's important for our state government to get this right."

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.