New Illinois law scheduled for release in January 2023


Police officers will be affected by the new SAFE-T Act due to new requirements for certification and training.

On Jan. 13, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity Today (SAFE-T) Act. The law includes extensive changes to the Illinois criminal justice system. It has been slowly released over time, but it will take full effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The Pretrial Fairness section of the act bans cash bail and will change to pre-trial release unless a police officer presents hard evidence within 24-48 hours that the defendant is a threat.

The court will make the final decision on whether or not they are a threat. If the court believes the defendant is a threat, then they will wait in jail for their trial, but if the court believes the defendant is not a threat, they will be able to remain at their home until their court date.

Social studies teacher Robyn Fardy discusses how she feels about the cash bail being changed to a pretrial release.

“No, I don’t want dangerous people around, but people are innocent until proven guilty. So in a lot of cases just because you’re accused of something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should be detained and held in jail until you have a trial date,” Fardy said.

Policing habits will also be changed under the SAFE-T Act. Police officers will now be allowed to intervene with other officers no matter the rank if they’re using unnecessary or excessive force. In addition to that, the law will expand police training in emergency response, racial and ethnic sensitivity, de-escalation, use of force, implicit bias, high-risk traffic stops and crisis intervention.

Police officer Andrew Barczak is coming up on his 19th year serving in the police force. Barczak explains how he feels about the increased levels of training that officers will now have to go through.

“These are very important areas in our profession that officers need to be efficient in, and unfortunately there are too many departments out there that don’t see training as a priority and almost more as a burden. In law enforcement, in my profession, you can never have too much training,” Barczak said.

The current law concerning phone calls that people in custody are allowed to make will also be changing with this act. As of now, a person under arrest is only allowed to make one phone call while in custody, but after the SAFE-T Act goes into effect, they will now have up to three phone calls totaling three hours.

Senior Gabriel Gowen shares his personal opinion on how he feels about the increase in the number of phone calls from one to three.

“It allows for more contact with families, so that’s a positive,” Gowen said.

Barczak explains who he believes the law will affect the most.

“The police, from body-worn cameras to training, to holding each other accountable when we deal with someone in custody… [and] people that deal with the legal system now,” Barczak said.

Fardy discusses some benefits of the SAFE-T Act and its positive effect.

“I feel like in a positive way for people who are held on bail… and allowing people to await trial at home, still working at jobs, and supporting their families,” Fardy said.