SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel (D-Shorewood) and several state senators joined the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council Thursday to unveil a package of proposals to support, fund and provide law enforcement officers with resources to serve and protect communities.

“Our law enforcement officers do an outstanding job of serving our communities, but bear the burden of the state’s criminal justice system,” said Loughran Cappel. “My colleagues in the Senate and I are committed to working with the Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police to provide a safety package that addresses the pressing public safety issues facing our communities today.”

The package aims to provide solutions to several of the problems law enforcement officers are facing including assisting departments with new grant opportunities, providing departments with additional tools to investigate crimes and helping departments utilize resources to address inmate mental health concerns.

Additionally, in an effort to prioritize equal pay in the criminal justice system, an initiative would require counties to pay sheriffs at least 80% of the state’s attorney’s salary.

“Public safety demands and increased expectations for law enforcement continue to put pressure on offices, but unfortunately, funding to support this rise in responsibility doesn’t coincide,” said Jim Kaitschuk, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association. “To ensure offenders are held accountable and officers are protected, new grant opportunities are needed to keep operations running smoothly without lapses in the criminal justice system.”

Two initiatives aim to fund grants in support of hiring, retaining and training law enforcement officers as well as mental health and substance abuse counseling for incarcerated and recently discharged individuals. Grants can also be used by departments to provide mental health care for officers, purchase safety equipment and fund projects to improve jail facilities.

Other provisions included in the proposals would allow law enforcement officers to continue using conversation recording equipment for violent crime investigations and expands the list of serious offenses in which DNA collection is required from an individual at conviction.

“In order to address the growing public concern for safety, police officers need all of the available resources at their disposal to put violent criminals behind bars,” said Shawn Roselieb with the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council. “This package of proposals offers a comprehensive approach to assist with investigations by including valuable components to determine suspects and review evidence as quickly as possible.”

To improve roadway investigations, a new proposal would expand the state’s Expressway Camera Program to include highway camera improvements in an additional fifteen counties outside Cook, including the Metro East.

“Our communities benefit when law enforcement officers are able to quickly identify and question violent crime suspects,” said Loughran Cappel. “By expanding the state’s Expressway Camera Program to improve safety on more, high-volume roadways, investigators would have access to review additional information and could expedite case outcomes.”

The package is a combined effort from state senators Meg Loughran Cappel, Scott Bennett, John Connor, Rachelle Crowe, Tom Cullerton, Bill Cunningham, Suzy Glowiak Hilton, Mike Hastings, Linda Holmes, Patrick Joyce, Steve Landek, Julie Morrison, Tony Munoz, Laura Murphy, Steve Stadelman and Doris Turner.

Legislation is expected to be finalized in the coming days.