• Ben Szalinski
    MAR 01, 2022


    SAFE-T Act driving up spending by Law Enforcement Training Standards Board on training, body cameras

    Grants for body cameras are a part of the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board’s budget increase for Fiscal Year 2023.

    The Law Enforcement Training Standards Board is in line for a large budget increase in Fiscal Year 2023 as the agency begins work on implementing requirements of the SAFE-T Act. The board’s budget is set to have more than tripled since lawmakers passed the law in 2021.

    More money for training police officers and distributing grants for police departments to buy body cameras highlight the Board’s budget request for next fiscal year. The SAFE-T Act includes new training requirements for police officers, and the board is also looking to add to its headcount next year to help departments meet the training requirements.   

    The board’s budget is set to increase by $35 million in Fiscal Year 2023, according to the governor’s office budget request. This increase brings the Board’s budget to $86 million for the next year. Prior to the SAFE-T Act’s passage, the Board’s budget for Fiscal Year 2021 was $27.5 million.   

    “The funds allocated in this budget demonstrate a high-level commitment from the General Assembly,” the Board’s Director Keith Calloway told the Senate Appropriations- State Law Enforcement Committee Monday.   

    The SAFE-T Act requires Illinois police officers undergo more training. Calloway said the budget proposal will help the board expand training for K-9 officers and school resource officers as well as investigations including opioids, sexual assault and homicide.   

    The budget request also includes full funding for Mobile Training Units the board uses to train officers throughout the state.   

    “Many of these new training requirements are already in place,” Calloway said.   

    The Board is also asking for more staff to be able to implement the requirements of the law. The budget request includes funds to hire 24 new employees at the Board to bring the Board’s total head count to 66 employees.   

    The Board had 19 employees prior to the SAFE-T Act’s passage.   

    “We’re looking at increasing [training] capacity,” Calloway said. “Our biggest issue has been COVID closures or reductions in space.” 

    The board reimburses police departments for half the cost of training for their officers, while the department covers the other half of the training expenses.   

    Getting officers in for training has been difficult, Calloway said. Capacity limits have kept training numbers down and have also made it difficult to train new officers.   

    “I’ve been talking to a number of sheriffs [and] local law enforcement officials that are hiring people,” Sen. Win Stoller (R-Germantown Hills) said. “There’s a waitlist to get into the academy for the training that they’re telling me can be four, six, eight months or more just to get somebody in and then they need to have the on-the-job training. So it can be six months to a year just to get somebody hired.”   

    Calloway said many of the new positions they want to fill are so they can train more officers.   

    “I’m looking for somebody who has a background in teaching or training or in police work,” Calloway said. “Somebody who has a flexibility and skills that can understand people. Somebody who’s also a dynamic presenter would be an ideal person for training.”   

    The governor’s budget request also includes $13.6 million for body camera grants. The SAFE-T Act requires all Illinois police officers to wear a body camera by the end of 2025. The body camera requirement for the state’s largest municipalities began this year and smaller departments will begin having to come into compliance with the law in coming years.   

    Calloway said his staff is getting a significant amount of interest in grants for body cameras. Next year’s grant pool would be $10.2 million more than the current amount offered.   

    Gov. JB Pritzker called increasing the grant “relief” for police departments in his budget address last month.   

    Republicans have argued Democrats are not making enough investments in police departments and public safety initiatives to reduce violence, especially in Chicago. Republicans have called for lawmakers to repeal the SAFE-T Act and argued it has made crime fighting more difficult in Illinois by “defunding police.” 

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