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  • Fairbury News staff

County briefed on bill

The Livingston County Board heard specifics of a criminal justice and police reform bill approved by Illinois lawmakers this week.

Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress outlined the bill which has amended guidelines on the use of deadly force and created a class three felony for certain law enforcement misconduct. Body cameras will eventually become mandatory and the Illinois Attorney General can investigate and file lawsuits against agencies.

“All of us should be prepared for a mass exodus of good officers unfortunately,” Childress said during Thursday’s regular meeting at Pontiac.

Childress feels some positives include the state not taking away qualified immunity and collective bargaining. He still believes the overall legislation makes communities less safe.

“If you see an officer go up and thank them because they’re doing a heck of a job in this county,” stated county board member James Carley, who serves as chair of the Sheriff, Jail and License Committee.

State’s Attorney Randy Yedinak said the bill actually started in 2019 when it was only seven pages and amended a couple of sentences in the Illinois Sentencing Code. Then the bill was changed to 611 pages. Yedinak believes this is the worst piece of legislation that has been passed in the state for as long as he can remember.

The elimination of cash bail is another aspect of the bill, which means if a prosecutor cannot prove to a judge that there is a certain person whom the suspect poses a threat to, the suspect is released before going to trial.

“It is a terrible, terrible law,” Yedinak said.

According to Yedinak, 100 of 102 state’s attorneys in Illinois oppose the bill, which awaits the governor’s signature.

“Anything and everything to defund the police is what they’re trying to accomplish,” added Sheriff Childress.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the Livingston County Board approved a resolution authorizing a COVID Relief Stimulus Grant. The county will offer grants to businesses impacted by COVID which have not received any other type of aid.

Businesses must meet certain requirements such as losing a minimum amount of money during a certain time frame. Information is expected to be posted soon on the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council’s website along with the County Board site.

“We’ll really make an attempt to get it out there as much as possible,” said the county’s Alina Hartley.

The group also approved the semi-annual report from Livingston County Clerk Kristy Masching. Online service fees where people can go for records were down a bit, but some prefer to visit the office personally. The recording revenue went up over 2019 since there has been plenty of loan re-financing.

Masching noted the number of births have decreased over the past few years while death numbers have climbed. In 2018, there were 376 death records compared to 390 in 2019 and 445 in 2020.

In other action, the Livingston County Board:

-Renewed the Regional Office of Education agreement.

-Authorized a liquor license application for a change of ownership at Wolf Creek golf course. This is contingent upon attorney approval.

-Approved the bills listed under the consent agenda.

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