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December 31, 2008

Governor Reminds Illinoisans of New Public Safety Laws Effective January 1, 2009

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced six new public safety laws designed to protect Illinoisans from danger and crime. The laws will take effect January 1, 2009. They allow for the use of GPS tracking devices in certain domestic violence cases, provide a stronger plan for colleges and universities in the event of an emergency, equip firefighters with more authority, strengthen penalties for unlawful use of certain weapons, and outlaw the use of a bumpkey.


In response to the death of Cindy Bischof, an Arlington Heights woman killed by her ex-boyfriend, Senate Bill 2719, sponsored by State Senator Susan Garrett (D – Highwood) and State Representative Suzanne Bassi (R – Palatine), increases protection for domestic violence victims. The bill establishes the Domestic Violence Surveillance Program where offenders who violate an order of protection could be ordered to wear a GPS tracking device while on bail, as a condition of their probation, or upon release from custody.


“We have to do everything in our power to protect our communities from domestic violence; it needlessly takes the lives of too many people every year,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “This new law will help combat some of the dangers these individuals face and help them feel more secure. In general, these new laws all have the same goal – to ensure the safety of the public.”


Those who attempt to illegally obtain a firearm will now face steeper punishment. House Bill 5524, sponsored by State Representative Dennis Reboletti (R – Addison) and State Senator John Millner (R – St. Charles), increases the penalty for those who illegally obtain or attempt to obtain firearms to a possible Class X felony which carries a sentence of up to 40 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. This law also revokes the possibility of probation, periodic imprisonment, or conditional discharge.


In an effort to make campuses safer statewide, State Senator John Sullivan (D – Quincy) and State Representative Robert Pritchard (R – Sycamore) sponsored Senate Bill 2691, requiring all public and private colleges and universities to have an annual emergency response plan and campus violence prevention plan exercises. Local emergency managers and Illinois Emergency Management Agency regional coordinators are required to provide schools with appropriate standards and guidelines to assist in the development and maintenance of the plans.


Senate Bill 2488, sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D – Benton) and State Representative John Bradley (D – Marion), permits firefighters to close off lanes of traffic while responding to an emergency situation if no law enforcement or highway officials are present. This bill also increases the penalty for reckless homicide cases to a Class 2 felony if the individual fails to follow procedure required when approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, or if the defendant caused the death of two or more persons as part of a single course of conduct.


House Bill 2757 includes stricter guidelines to protect Illinois residents from the use of knuckle weapons. Previously the law only applied to metal knuckle weapons. Now the new amendment of the bill includes all knuckle weapons regardless of composition.  House Bill 2757 was sponsored by State Representative Fred Crespo (D – Streamwood) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D – Chicago).


House Bill 2859 creates new protections for communities by outlawing common burglary tools.  Possession of a bumpkey may show the intent to commit a crime of theft or other felony unless the person is authorized to possess such a tool.  A bumpkey is a regular key that has been filed down to fit into and open any lock. This bill was sponsored by State Representative Michael P. McAuliffe (R – Chicago) and State Senator James DeLeo (D – Chicago).


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