030414 js 0317SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler's plan to make it a crime for a police dispatcher to tip off a criminal that law enforcement is nearby passed the Illinois Senate. It now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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.

"The people of Illinois need to be able to trust the entire law enforcement system," Koehler said. "911 dispatchers hold an important position, and they should be held accountable if they breach the public's trust."

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 Illinois Supreme Court agreed.

Koehler's proposal, Senate Bill 2695, 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.

Category: Press Releases

pseudoSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) believes that making one of the key ingredients of meth harder to come by will help local law enforcement agencies crack down on the dangerous drug. His plan is to require prescriptions for medication containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – the only ingredient that drug dealers absolutely have to have to make meth.

"Meth is a terrible drug that ruins people's lives," Koehler said. "Other states that instituted prescriptions for pseudoephedrine have reported great success. Oregon went from 473 meth lab incidents in 2003 to nine in 2013."

Pseudoephedrine, which is often used in cold medicine, was a prescription medication until the mid-1970s, when the federal government ruled that it could be sold over the counter. Since then, two states – Oregon and Mississippi – have decided to use state law to put pseudoephedrine back behind the pharmacist's window. Both states have experienced a significant drop in meth production.

Pekin Chief of Police Greg Nelson approached Senator Koehler with the idea of making Illinois the third state to make pseudoephedrine available only by prescription. Koehler agreed to sponsor the legislation, Senate Bill 3502, in order to help reduce the number of meth incidents in the state. Illinois had the fifth most meth incidents of all states in 2012, with 801 reports of meth activity.

Illinois already requires anyone purchasing a product that contains pseudoephedrine to sign a registry, and state law limits the number of products a person can purchase per day and month. Law enforcement reports that meth dealers get around these limits by having several different people purchase cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Category: Press Releases

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

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