Pritzker signs bills creating co-responder programs, funding grants to police departments

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Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed into law three bills aimed at reshaping the state's response to violence.

The first bill creates a "co-responder" pilot program in four Illinois cities, set to start within the next six months. Peoria, Springfield, East St. Louis and Waukegan will participate in the program.

The program will place social workers and mental health professionals in newly created units within participating police departments. These workers will be able to join police officers on calls to assess if those involved are experiencing a mental health crisis or would be served by mental health services or other social supports. The state allocated $10 million to this program in this year's budget.

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The program was created by HB 4736, a bill that passed in the final hours of this year's legislative session. It passed almost unanimously in the House, 109-2, though the Senate approved it on a nearly party-line 40-17 vote, with Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, being the only Republican to vote for the measure.

Pritzker and the bill's proponents said these social workers will be available to help those affected by crime.

"We're launching a victim-centered co-responder pilot program to pair victims and witnesses with social workers who will provide survivors with trauma-informed crisis intervention services, community resources for mental and behavioral health treatment and empathetic advocacy," said Pritzker on Tuesday.

The bill also updates the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act, a law that provided funds to assist cooperating witnesses in gang-related investigations. The new law, called the Violent Crime Witness Protection Act, authorizes funding for an expanded version of that program as well as funding for tiplines.

Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, who sponsored the bill and led the working group that produced it and other crime-related legislation this year, said it is an example of "21st century policing."

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"There are those who have lots of catchphrases, none of which I accept," said Gordon-Booth. "Because I believe we should be funding the community. We should be funding the police."

Adequately funding police dpeartments is the intention of another bill signed by Pritzker on Tuesday. HB 3863, which was approved unanimously by both chambers of the legislature, creates the Law Enforcement Recruitment and Retention Fund. The fund will be used to award grants to local governments, colleges and nonprofit entities "for the purpose of hiring and retraining law enforcement officers," according to the new law.

The final bill signed by Pritzker, HB 2985, also passed unanimously. The law creates a fund that will directly pay funeral expenses for children who die because of gun violence.

The law is named for Mychal Moultry Jr., a 4-year-old boy who was shot and killed in 2021 in Woodlawn, a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

All three laws take effect immediately.

Contact Andrew Adams:; (312)-291-1417;

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Funding the police in Illinois: Pritzker signs law enforcement bills