U.S. News

New Illinois law bans choke holds; gives guidelines on body cameras

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law on Wednesday to improve training for police officers, banning excessive use of force including choke holds and creating guidelines on using body cameras.

Republican Bruce Rauner smiles after winning the midterm elections in Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

Illinois is among the first states to pass police reform legislation since a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in Missouri last year sparked a national debate about police conduct.

Other states to pass reform bills include Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland and California, but Illinois’ law is one of the broadest and most comprehensive, said Rich Williams, policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State Senator Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the bill, said most officers are putting their lives on the line for the public, and this law will help them do their jobs better, while weeding out abuses.

“This is not just about police officer accountability, but restoring public confidence so police can do their jobs,” Raoul said in an interview. “You have a heightened level of cooperation when you have a heightened level of confidence.”

The Illinois bill establishes rules for racial sensitivity training and reporting requirements for officers who make stops and arrests.

The body camera portion of the bill establishes standards on when officers need to have cameras on and how long recordings should be retained.

The bill also calls for setting up a database to keep track of when a police officer quits while under investigation, so he or she is not hired by another department.

The bill also makes clear that police officers cannot stop another person from recording them while they are performing their duties.

“Today we are taking steps to strengthen the relationship between our law enforcement officers and the public they protect,” Rauner said in a statement.

Editing by Matthew Lewis