As legislators prepare to consider much-needed legislation to reform policing in Illinois, new polling released today shows that 9 out of 10 (91%) Illinois voters are strongly supportive of legislative efforts that hold police accountable for misconduct. 69% of voters agree that reform is necessary now because of racial bias in policing.
The polling results address a number of proposals contained in what is hoped to be major policing legislation in Illinois. The Legislative Black Caucus released language for a police reform bill that aims to be transformative – House Bill 163 (Senate Amendment #2) – as part of a broader pillar aimed at justice reform.
The polling shows broad voter support for many provisions included in the bill and show that voters are supportive of holistic reform.
Among other findings, the poll finds that nearly 9 out of 10 voters back:
- Holding law enforcement accountable for violating individuals’ constitutional rights (89% say it should be a major priority)
- Establishing clear and consistent statewide limits surround the use of force by police, including deadly force (80% say it should be a major priority)
- Training all police to a clear and consistent standard surrounding the use of force by police, including deadly force (90% say it should be a major priority)
- Rules mandating that officers are held responsible when they use force without justification resulting in a death (88% support)
- Establishing consequences for not turning on dashboard or body cameras (88% support)
In addition, more than 3 out of 4 voters in Illinois support banning chokeholds (76%) and requiring a state agency to report when a police officer uses force (78%), while an overwhelming 69% of voters want to end special protections for police officers – known as qualified immunity – that allows officers to escape from many lawsuits, denying victims of real harm a day in court. And nearly two-thirds of voters (66%) support an end of so-called “no-knock” warrants. The warrant process in the state has been under even more scrutiny since public disclosure of body cam video of Chicago social worker Anjanette Young being held handcuffed and naked in her own home during a botched raid.
Finally, a majority (56%) of voters support ending the antiquated and chilling requirement that someone making a complaint against a police officer must sign a sworn affidavit, opening themselves up to prosecution simply to lodge a complaint against a police officer.
In response to the release of the overwhelming demonstration of public support for reform by voters in Illinois, Khadine Bennett, Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs at the ACLU of Illinois, which commissioned and released the poll issued the following statement:
“We have seen enough videos, we have heard enough stories, and we have represented enough people who have been victims of abuse, racial profiling, and intimation by police. We know that Black and Brown people in communities throughout Illinois continue to be disproportionately targeted and harmed.
The time for nibbling at the edges is over.
The bill to be considered in Springfield must meet the demands of the people in Illinois who protested and demonstrated after the killing of George Floyd. It has to address use of force that results in death and abuse at the hands of police, and the lack of accountability when police misconduct occurs.
Legislation that holds police accountable when they abuse their power or violate constitutional rights; creates a statewide use of force standard that gives law enforcement and citizens clear guidance for if and when force can be used; restricts the use of military equipment and tactics; removes barriers to anonymous complaints; and requires transparent data collection that measures successful implementation shouldn’t be controversial, it should be expected.
The poll shows that narratives around political backlash to police reform are overblown: just 9% of voters say they would be less likely to support a legislator that increases police accountability, as compared to two-thirds of voters (66%) who said they were more likely to support a legislator who voted for measures that increase police accountability in Illinois. It is time to act.
Legislators must push back against those who would resist or water down any reform to policing in Illinois. The protests and demonstrations of 2020 make clear, and the polling reinforces, that Illinois voters are ready for change.”
The polling information released today is drawn from two separate polls of 600 voters in Illinois. The first poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group from October 27-November 4. The second poll, also conducted by Global Strategy Group, took place from December 15-21, 2020. Both surveys have a margin of error of +/- 4.0% and were conducted online using a voter file match. Care was taken to ensure each poll represented the registered voter universe.