Public Safety

  • State lawmakers discuss paths to sentencing reform and violence reduction

    simspeters 092920CHICAGO—Members of the Illinois House and Senate came together to discuss sentencing reform and violence reduction in a joint Senate hearing on Tuesday.

    “We must confront the vast disparities in how individuals throughout the state are sentenced,” State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, who co-chaired the joint committee alongside State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who heads the Senate Public Safety Special Committee. “We have to ensure that our justice system treats everyone fairly regardless of their race, religion and economic status. That often is not the case. These issues are important to achieve a more fair and equitable system.”

  • State lawmakers examine disparities in sentencing throughout Illinois

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  • Villivalam believes mass transit districts must take proper safety precautions

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  • Glowiak Hilton shares reopening guidelines with local businesses

    Sen. Suzy Glowiak HiltonWESTERN SPRINGS – State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs) is highlighting the new employee safety measures for businesses that will reopen under the modified Stay at Home Order.

    “Protecting the health of employees and customers is paramount as we begin to reopen the economy,” Glowiak Hilton said. “These guidelines clearly lay out what steps employers should take to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

  • Senate Dems unveil public safety priorities

    pub safety 020620CHICAGO – Several Democratic members of the newly formed Senate Special Committee on Public Safety met in Chicago today to unveil their public safety priorities for this year’s legislative session.

    State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who will chair the committee, spoke of his past legislative accomplishments and how they motivate him to continue that fight.

    “I’ve dedicated my adult life toward the fight to reimagine and to win real safety and justice, and last year I passed several laws with this goal in mind, including one to abolish private detention centers,” Peters said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to personally head up the Special Committee on Public Safety, and I am confident that the committee will lead to a society that is fair, equitable, just and, most importantly, safe.”

  • Murphy passes pedestrian safety measure

    Sen. Laura MurphySPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) advanced a measure from the Illinois Senate to address pedestrian fatalities on state highways.

    “This is a very personal issue to me,” Murphy said. “In Des Plaines we’ve witnessed four separate pedestrian fatalities at the same intersection, and countless other close calls. The local police department even did a sting operation and cited dozens of drivers for not yielding to pedestrians there.”

    Senate Bill 767 would require the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to conduct a traffic study for each pedestrian fatality on a state highway. Studies would consider design improvements, traffic control devices and any other improvements that IDOT may recommend.

    The measure passed the Senate 49-1 and will go to the House for consideration.

  • Sandoval passes measure to improve student safety on school buses

    Majority Caucus Whip Martin A. SandovalSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) that would improve the safety of children on school buses passed the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

    House Bill 2121 makes changes to the eligibility standards for individuals with criminal convictions applying for a bus driver license. The legislation would add several criminal offenses to the list of those that would make an individual eligible for a lifetime ban from receiving a license.

    “When we think of school safety, we often limit our scope by thinking only of the building itself,” Sandoval said. “A student’s experience starts when he or she boards the bus and we need assurance that our children will be safe on their commute as well as in class.”

  • Peters promotes bicyclist and pedestrian safety

    Student DriverSPRINGFIELD – A new bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) would help improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

    Senate Bill 1642 requires drivers’ education courses to include instruction on bicycle and pedestrian safety beginning in the 2020-21 school year. The curriculum would include instructions on how to safely pass bicyclists and pedestrians while driving, how to safely exit a vehicle without endangering bicyclists and pedestrians and how to navigate through intersections shared with bicyclists and pedestrians.

    “I represent areas of Jackson Park and of Downtown Chicago, which have a higher than average number of accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists, have just as much of a right to the road as drivers do,” Peters said. “However, many drivers’ education courses only prepare drivers for how to safely be around other drivers.

    “This poses a huge threat to pedestrians and bicyclists,” Peters said. “By including these new safety instructions in drivers’ education courses, we can reduce the risk of injury that bicyclists and pedestrians face on a daily basis.”

    The measure passed through the Senate Education Committee unanimously and moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • March is Poison Awareness Month

    Poison Awareness Month

    March is Poison Awareness Month. More than 2 million poisonings are reported to poison centers each year, so take the necessary steps to protect your home and family from the poisonous items we handle every day.

    How can I prepare my home to prevent poisoning?

    • Store medications, alcohol, batteries, oils and lubricants, cleaning supplies and other chemicals away from places that can be reached by children.
    • Safely dispose of these materials in the proper containers or disposal locations.
    • Install and keep carbon monoxide detectors up-to-date.

    Who is most likely to be poisoned?

    • Everyone is susceptible to poisoning, but most poisoning cases involve children under six. Keep poisonous chemicals and substances in a safe place where children can’t reach them.

    What do I do if someone has been poisoned?

    • If the poison was inhaled, get the person to fresh air immediately.
    • If the poison is on the skin, remove any contaminated clothes and rinse skin with water for 15 to 20 minutes.
    • If the poison is in the eyes, rinse eyes with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
    • In all cases call the Poison Help number (below) to speak with a poison expert.

    If someone is showing obvious signs of poisoning, dial 9-1-1 and see a medical professional. For questions related to poison prevention or disposal of poisonous materials call the Poison Help number at 1-800-222-1222. For more information on poison prevention, visit

  • February is earthquake preparedness month

    Earthquake Preparedness Month

    February is Earthquake Preparedness Month. The most common areas for earthquakes to strike in Illinois are in the central and southern regions of the state. Make sure that your family and home are protected in the event of an earthquake.

    How should I prepare my home before an earthquake?

    • Secure or move heavy paintings and mirrors situated over beds and sitting areas
    • Move heavy and fragile items to lower shelves
    • Call a professional to secure your water heater and other appliances that could move and rupture their gas or electric lines
    • Learn how to shut off gas and electricity in your home in case of a ruptured line
    • Talk with your family about what to do during an earthquake

    What do I do during an earthquake?

    • DROP to your hands and knees before the earthquake knocks you down
    • COVER your head and neck and find a sturdy table or desk to hide under
      • If there is no furniture to hide under, move to an interior wall and keep your head and neck covered
    • HOLD ON to your shelter until the earthquake stops

     What should I do after an earthquake?

    • Check yourself and others for injuries
    • Check gas and electricity and, if safe, shut them off
    • Use a battery powered radio to listen for updates
    • Do NOT use matches, lighters, or candles indoors

    Click here for more preparedness tips.

  • January is Radon Awareness Month

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  • Munoz reminds drivers to switch lanes when passing a stranded vehicle

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    Assistant Majority Leader Antonio “Tony” Munoz (D-Chicago) reminds drivers to be cautious when driving on expressways and move over when approaching a vehicle stranded on the side of the road.

    In 2000, Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver on the Dan Ryan Expressway. As a way to commemorate his life and protect emergency personnel from accidents or injury, Scott’s Law was passed to enforce penalties on drivers who cause accidents, injuries, or don’t yield to emergency vehicles.

    Recently, that law was expanded to cover all stranded motor vehicles as far too many accidents have occurred involving vehicles stranded on the expressway.

  • Castro passes measure that would help prevent auto collisions

    Auto dealerSPRINGFIELD – Obstructions in car windshields of test-driven vehicles has led State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) to act on life saving legislation that would require dealerships to remove decals on vehicles before leaving the lot.

    The measure, House Bill 733, arose out of a tragic situation where 22 year old Brenden Burke was victim to a preventable fatal accident.

    Burke was struck and killed in 2016 after a vehicle being test-driven from a nearby car dealer turned left into Burke’s path. The driver of the other vehicle had obstructed vision because of the number of decals and paper work left on the driver side windshield by the dealership.

    “The story of Brenden Burke is a tragic, yet highly preventable, one,” said Castro. “There is absolutely no reason decals and paper work should be obstructing the view of a person test-driving an unfamiliar vehicle.”

  • Prohibition against selling lead-contaminated properties signed into law

    Prohibition against selling lead-contaminated properties signed into law

    SPRINGFIELD – Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) took an important step toward preventing Illinoisans from lead contamination by passing a measure, signed Friday, that will prevent the resale and sale of properties with high lead levels.

    Senate Bill 2300 aims to protect children from lead exposure, which research shows negatively impacts children in classrooms and is cited as one of the causes of violence and aggression among youth. Currently, it is legal to sell and resell contaminated properties without warning owners and tenants of the hazardous effects.

    "Illinois cannot afford to wait for lead poisoning to become a statewide epidemic before it takes action," said Trotter, who serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate. “Far too many families are affected with lead toxins in their homes and it is our job to protect them and their children.”

    Majority Caucus Whip and member of the Senate's Public Health Committee Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) also sponsored the legislation.

    "Children in every neighborhood should have access to clean water and lead free homes,” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by the side effects of lead poisoning. Families are living in homes where properties still have lead pipes that can cause brain damage for residents.”

    Another notable member supporting the bill in committee was State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago).

    “We must learn our lesson from the tragedy of Flint, Michigan, and work quickly and proactively to guard our youth against this preventable poison,” Collins said. “This law will empower renters and homeowners to protect their families.”

    Furthermore, the bill will prevent the lease, sale, or renewal of properties with high levels of lead in building materials and paint.

  • Silverstein ice missiles measure shot down

    silverstein iceSPRINGFIELD– It sounds like a weapon used in a James Bond film: ice missiles. But they are real, deadly and the target of a legislative proposal from Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) to prevent them and to penalize those who cause them. In spite of the statistics on the dangers ice missiles present to motorists, the Senate Transportation Committee did not approve the proposal.

    An ice missile is a large chunk of ice or snow that flies off a large truck on the highway. Many Illinois drivers have seen this occur and may have wondered what could happen if the split-second fall of ice were to hit another vehicle.

    Sen. Silverstein’s proposal in Senate Bill 634 would require a person operating a vehicle weighing more than 8,000 pounds to remove ice and snow that poses a safety threat to other vehicles and drivers. Nearly 100 deaths and thousands of accidents happen each year.

    “Each year in Illinois, we are almost guaranteed several days of winter weather that create these hazardous conditions, enough to warrant a change to the state vehicle code to protect drivers from this risk,” Silverstein said. “I believe it is reasonable to ask truck drivers who use Illinois roads for commerce to make an effort to protect motorists by clearing ice and snow from their trucks. With this bill failing in committee, I fear this kind of accident may happen again.

    The legislation met with strong opposition from the Illinois Trucking Association, Midwest Truckers, National Waste and Recycling Association and Illinois Coal Association.

    Pete Morano joined Sen. Silverstein in Springfield to tell his story to the Senate Transportation Committee. His injuries from an ice missile incident in 2010 left him without vision in his left eye after three surgeries to rebuild his face. Pete wants to prevent other families from the losses his family and the Stutson family have suffered.

    “I understand their concerns and appreciate their willingness to tell their stories and advocate for change to prevent future ice missile accidents,” Silverstein said. “I know of manufacturers and motor carriers that offer a variety of snow-removal systems, and I do not believe this would be a burden on the trucking industry.”

  •  Raoul: Chicago police accountability task force major step toward systemic change

    Raoul: Chicago police accountability task force major step toward systemic changeCHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the dismissal of police superintendent Garry McCarthy and the City of Chicago’s appointment of a task force on police accountability:

    Yesterday’s announcements represent a positive step out of a dark time in our city. While no individual is solely responsible for the crisis of public confidence that has converged on the murder of Laquan McDonald and the culture of inaction and obfuscation that hid it from public view for more than a year, Superintendent McCarthy’s departure is a necessary step. It sends a signal of seriousness. But just as replacing a head coach does not automatically correct deeper weaknesses within a team, new leadership will not necessarily bring about the systemic change desperately needed in Chicago’s law enforcement and criminal justice apparatus.

    That’s why I’m encouraged by the appointment of a police accountability task force made up of individuals with the integrity and experience to move beyond platitudes to real reform.

    The choice of Deval Patrick, who was raised on the South Side, headed the civil rights division of the Department of Justice and served two terms as governor of Massachusetts, to advise the task force is a wise one. I’m optimistic that he will bring to the endeavor outside eyes but also a deep love for this city.

    Inspector General Joe Ferguson, former State Police director Hiram Grau, Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, University of Chicago law professor and former Cook County public defender Randolph Stone and former federal prosecutor Sergio Acosta will round out the group, lending valuable experience and insight to the critical task of restoring public trust in the police. To move that process forward, they must determine patterns and practices that need to be overhauled. And our city’s leadership must exercise the will to follow their counsel.

    I also stand behind Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to undertake a civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department. Rep. Elgie Sims and I met with her yesterday prior to her announcement, and I look forward to continuing to work with her on statewide policy solutions that build on the landmark law enforcement reform legislation Rep. Sims and I passed this year. The road ahead is long, but the journey has begun.

  • Kids, cocktails, corn: new laws, Fall 2015 edition

    new laws 0915With this year’s main session of the General Assembly over, Illinois has several new laws that could make a significant impact on your daily life.

    If you have kids, enjoy after-work cocktails or are a veteran, you should definitely check out our list of the most important and interesting new laws that took effect this summer.

  • School carbon monoxide detectors become law

    manar lgdfSPRINGFIELD – Almost a year ago, a faulty exhaust pipe at North Mac Intermediate School in Girard sent 150 students and staff to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Since last September, the school has installed carbon monoxide detectors, but at the time there were none.

    Legislation requiring schools to install carbon monoxide detectors was signed into law Thursday. State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sponsored the proposal.

    “Last year, Girard could have faced an unimaginably horrific tragedy. We have an obligation to protect children while at school and ensure something like this can’t happen again,” Manar said.

    The law will require schools to install detectors within 20 feet of equipment that produce carbon monoxide. School buildings without carbon monoxide sources would be exempt.

    “We always look for lessons learned, and installing the detectors was a preventative measure that we needed to take to assure everyone that our schools are safe from this threat,” said North Mac Superintendent Marica Cullen.

    A similar incident occurred last October at Harper High School in Chicago when the school was evacuated and nine students were hospitalized.

    State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) sponsored the proposal in the House.

    The legislation was negotiated with the Illinois Association of School Boards and the Illinois School Management Alliance, which represent the interests of school administration in Springfield.

    California, Connecticut and Maryland have similar requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.

    The new law, House Bill 152, takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.

  • New law aims to protect college students from sexual assault

    New law aims to protect college students from sexual assaultWith studies showing an alarming one-in-five undergraduate college women becoming victims of rape or attempted rape, a measure was signed into law recently that will prevent and ensure proper response to sexual assaults that occur on college campuses.

    “College represents new experiences and new beginnings for thousands of young women and men each year,” sponsor Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “With thousands of college students heading to school, many of them for the first time, we are reminded of the importance in both preventing sexual assaults and responding with every single resource at our disposal when they do occur. Sexual assault cannot be tolerated anywhere.”

  • Illinois to test locking devices for painkillers

    martinez courtSPRINGFIELD — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored legislation in the Senate that will make Illinois the first state in the nation to launch a pilot program to provide locking devices on prescription vials for painkillers containing hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco.   

    Today, her proposal was signed into law.

    “Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications,” Martinez said. “This legislation will help prevent individuals who haven’t obtained a written prescription from using hydrocodone, a dangerous drug when used without a doctor’s supervision.”

    Physicians often prescribe painkillers such as hydrocodone for short- and long-term pain.

    Under Martinez’s plan, participating pharmacies in Illinois will place numerical locking devices on pharmacy prescriptions with hydrocodone.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990. Prescription painkillers cause nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses.

    In Chicago, hydrocodone is the most available prescription painkiller to non-prescribed users.

    The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will be charged with implementing the new program.