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Co-Responder legislation signed into law in Peoria, protecting victims and addressing root causes of crimes

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 2:03 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Governor JB Pritzker was in Peoria Tuesday along with local officials as he signed HB4736, which authorizes the creation and funding of the Co-Responders Pilot Program.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth, will support police in areas across the state in teaming up with social service agencies to address the root causes of disturbances or crime.

“This is 21st century policing where a collaborative approach with law enforcement and behavioral health professionals is designed to create better outcomes for both officers and the community,” she said. “As part of a comprehensive approach to address public safety, this measure will set up new units within departments to connect violence survivors with trauma-informed crisis intervention, assistance with finding safe housing and counseling. It also helps to bring needed security for crime witnesses, offering real financial assistance for relocation and temporary living costs.”

The Co-Responder Pilot Program authorizes police officers to bring social workers and mental health professionals on calls to assess if the person is experiencing a mental health crisis. Law enforcement and social workers can then decide if a mental health facility or other support could address their needs and behaviors.

Governor Pritzker’s FY23 budget allocated $10 million dollars to fund this pilot.

The bill also addresses victim’s rights and public safety holistically by mandating trauma-informed training for homicide investigators, authorizing funding to the Violent Crime Witness Protection Act (previously the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act), and creating a grant program to create tip hotlines or other victim and witness resources.

“We know that building a safer Illinois means approaching crime from every possible angle,” he said. “This program combines the necessary skills of police with the specialized training of social workers and mental health professionals to address the root causes of crime compassionately and safely. This is supported by data and by what law enforcement officers on the ground are telling us about the incidents they’re addressing.”

Peoria is a pilot city for the program, along with Springfield, East St. Louis and Waukegan. launching in the next six months.

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