CapitalSPRINGFIELD – New legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker would crack down on public indecency and sexual misconduct in jails.

Under Senate Bill 416, if a defendant is found guilty of an administrative infraction related to public indecency or sexual misconduct while in jail it will be an aggravating factor in the defendant’s sentencing.

“There’s no excuse for this sort of behavior in jails and we need to start taking these offenses seriously and impose real consequences for them,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This measure will provide a serious deterrent to prevent these infractions and make our jails safer both for inmates and jail personnel.”

The measure will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

05172019CM0038SPRINGFIELD – First responders will be able to more effectively reach and treat overdose patients under new legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham signed into law by the governor.

Senate Bill 1258 allows require emergency medical technicians in Chicago to report treatment of an individual experiencing a suspected or actual opioid overdose to the city for use in the Overdose Detection Mapping Application (ODMAP), developed by the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

“People are dying every day from overdoses and we need new tools to help combat this crisis,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs.

The ODMAP provides real-time overdose data throughout an area to mobilize an immediate response to an overdose spike. Each suspected overdose is plotted to a map that allows local officials to identify trends and develop strategies to more effectively respond to overdoses.

“This technology will be incredibly effective in improving overdose response time and fostering the development of new approaches that authorities use to fight the opioid crisis,” Cunningham said. “I feel confident that after we implement this program, we’ll see a lot more lives saved and a lot more people seeking help for their addiction.”

Senate Bill 1258 will take effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

05072019CM0355SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham’s legislation to deter threats from being made against schools on social media was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker today.

“False threats are not only terrifying for students, parents and faculty, they also divert emergency response resources away from places where they’re really needed,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This legislation will provide us with a mechanism to impose consequences that will deter these threats from being made.”

Under Illinois law, a person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when he or she calls 911 for the purpose of making a false complaint or providing false information, including a threat against a school.

House Bill 1579 expands the offense to include threats made on any platform, including social media. Current law only covers threats made by telephone or threats that specifically mention the use a bomb.

If an individual is convicted of transmitting a false threat, he or she must also pay for the costs of the emergency response the threat triggered.

In drafting the legislation, Cunningham worked closely with State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) and Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan, whose department heightened security measures at local schools several times last year due to threats on social media.

“According to law enforcement in my district, threats of violence against schools are increasingly coming through social media rather than the phone and make no mention of a bomb,” Cunningham said. “This trend is only going to continue and we need to make sure we update our statute to keep it aligned with modern concerns.”

The measure further allows the court to order a mental health evaluation for a minor charged with disorderly conduct for transmitting a threat to a school.

“Threats to schools are usually linked with mental health issues that need to be addressed for the benefit of both the individual who made the threat and those around them,” Cunningham said. “Allowing for mental health evaluations in these circumstances will allow law enforcement and medical professionals to work together to best resolve these cases.”

The measure will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

08152019CM0240SPRINGFIELD – The governor has signed into law two measures sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that would help prevent suicide and promote mental wellness among first responders.

 “Suicide and mental health are among the biggest issues facing first responders today,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “These pieces of legislation are major steps in combating these problems and showing first responders that help is available and it’s okay to ask for it.”

House Bill 2766, which Cunningham cosponsored, creates the First Responders Suicide Prevention Act. The act includes provisions to implement training for individuals tasked with providing peer support counseling to colleagues, requires police and fire departments to develop disciplinary measures for those who violate confidentiality agreements and creates a civil cause of action for employees whose employment status is adversely affected by information obtained during a counseling session.

“Peer support counseling is a critical tool in the fight against first responder suicide and I’m proud to support measures that ensure it remains a viable and confidential option for those who need it,” said Cunningham. “No one understands the issues these men and women face more than their peers and by fostering the development of peer counseling programs, we’re taking steps to save lives.”

House Bill 2767, on which Cunningham was the primary sponsor, requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to develop a course addressing the issues of officer wellness and suicide prevention. The course will be included in the training requirements police officers must complete before graduating the police academy and would also need to be completed every three years after graduation.

The training will be required to include recognizing signs of work-related cumulative stress, issues that may lead to suicide and solutions for intervention with peer support resources.  

“By educating officers, we’re hoping to eliminate the stigma that mental health challenges are a sign of weakness and somehow disqualify officers from being able to do their jobs properly,” Cunningham said.

House Bill 2766 will take effect immediately. House Bill 2767 will take effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

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