021914 js 0010SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler's plan to make it a crime for a police dispatcher to tip off a criminal that law enforcement is on the way moved one step closer to becoming law today when it passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee.

In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that it's not a crime for a 911 dispatcher to let a drug dealer – or other criminal – know that police are in the area. The court called the case "troubling" and the defendant's actions "unjustifiable," but found nothing in Illinois law making such behavior illegal.

"We can't hold the men and women who support the police to a lower standard than police officers themselves when it comes to enforcing the law," the Peoria Democrat said. "When a 911 dispatcher warns a criminal that police are nearby, it undermines everyone's trust in our law enforcement system."

In 1998, a police dispatcher tipped off a local drug dealer that law enforcement officials were in the area near his house in the Chicago suburbs. The Cook County State's Attorney charged her with official misconduct. The trial court found her guilty and sentenced her to two years of probation and 250 hours of community service.

However, the 911 dispatcher appealed the verdict. The appellate court ruled that nothing in Illinois law allowed her to be charged with official misconduct. The local police department had every right to fire her, but she hadn't broken any Illinois law. In 2010, the Supreme Court agreed.

Koehler's proposal would make it a Class 3 felony for a police dispatcher – or anyone in a similar position – to warn a criminal that law enforcement is nearby or on the way by expanding the definition of official misconduct to include this circumstance. The crime of official misconduct already covers a wide variety of corrupt acts by public employees, including accepting bribes and misusing one's authority for personal gain.

The penalty for a Class 3 felony is two to five years in prison. Koehler's legislation, Senate Bill 2695, will now be heard by the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

In Illinois, police dispatchers can tip off criminals

koehler021314SPRINGFIELD – In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that it's not a crime for a police dispatcher to tip off a criminal that law enforcement is on the way. The court called the case "troubling" and the defendant's actions "unjustifiable," but found nothing in Illinois law making such behavior illegal. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) wants to change that.

"We have to be able to trust everyone in law enforcement to enforce the law," Koehler said. "Nothing erodes the public's trust in the government faster than a problem with the justice system."

The story starts in the Chicago suburbs. In 1998, a police dispatcher named Carmecita Williams tipped off a local drug dealer that law enforcement officials were in the area near his house. When Ms. Williams' actions came to light, the Cook County State's Attorney charged her with official misconduct. The trial court found her guilty and sentenced her to two years probation and 250 hours of community service.

However, Ms. Williams appealed the verdict. The appellate court ruled that nothing in Illinois law allowed her to be charged with official misconduct. The local police department had every right to fire her, but she hadn't broken any Illinois law. In 2010, the Supreme Court agreed.

Throughout the entire process, the courts had no doubt that Ms. Williams had tipped off the drug dealer.

Koehler's proposal would make it a Class 3 felony for a police dispatcher – or anyone in a similar position – to warn a criminal that law enforcement is nearby or on the way by expanding the definition of official misconduct to include this circumstance. The crime of official misconduct already covers a wide variety of corrupt acts by public employees, including accepting bribes and misusing one's authority for personal gain.

The penalty for a Class 3 felony is two to five years in prison.

Koehler's legislation, Senate Bill 2695, is currently waiting to be assigned to committee.

Category: Press Releases

ATV VermontPEORIA – Owners of all-terrain vehicles will be protected when using their vehicles on private property under a new law proposed by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

In 2012, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law to help finance the Department of Natural Resources through a series of new and expanded fees – part of an effort to keep the desperately underfunded agency afloat. However, after hearing from a number of ATV owners who believe the fees for all-terrain vehicles are unfair, Koehler began working with DNR to find a solution that ensures the agency gets the funding it needs while ATV owners get a better deal.

"The Department of Natural Resources plays a vital role in keeping state parks and wildlife areas open for Illinois families, and we need to make sure it has adequate funding," Koehler said. "But the 2012 law asked too much of ATV owners. We need to fix this problem."

The flawed 2012 law failed to differentiate between golf carts, vehicles used by people with disabilities and ATVs used in state and local parks and preserves. It also charged a flat fee for all ATVs, failing to differentiate between adult ATVs and vehicles used by children.

Koehler's plan (Senate Bill 2633) cuts the current $15 registration fee down to $10 for vehicles with smaller than 75 cc engines (normally used by children). It also provides clear exemptions for golf carts, vehicles for people with disabilities, ATVs used by governments and ATVs used by farmers. It clarifies that ATVs used only on a family's own property are also exempt, as are vehicles used only in ATV competitions.

In addition, DNR has pledged to use much of the money raised by the new fee to develop and maintain ATV trails on state property. This new money allows the agency to qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal matching funds.

"When ATV owners pay these fees, they should get something out of it," Koehler said. "New, improved, better maintained ATV trails will be a great family-friendly resource that should help raise the profile of Illinois' state parks."

Category: Press Releases

CANTON – State Senator Dave Koehler's district office director, Jennifer Allison, will be holding satellite office hours in Canton on Thursday, December 5. The purpose of the event is to allow local residents to discuss state-government issues in person without travelling to Peoria.

  • Location: City Hall, Director's room on lower level
  • Address: 2 North Main St., Canton, IL
  • Time: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

 

Senator Koehler's district office in Peoria is located at 400 NE Jefferson St., Suite 200. It is normally open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Area residents who are seeking assistance can also call the district office at 309-677-0120 or the senator's Springfield office at 217-782-8250

 

Category: Press Releases

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 677-0120