Police Chiefs Push for Stricter Penalties as Fleeing Traffic Stops Remains Misdemeanor in Illinois

Police Chiefs Push for Stricter Penalties as Fleeing Traffic Stops Remains Misdemeanor in Illinois

IN CHICAGO— In Illinois, it is only a misdemeanour to run away during a traffic stop, and police are looking for ways to stop these offences, which are a problem that keeps happening.

All over the Chicagoland area, police chiefs say they need stricter rules because more and more drivers get away when police stop them. They’re hoping that a new push in Springfield will give police the support they need to stop it.

According to the cops, a careless driver caused an accident in Palatine on Thursday. An individual driving a black SUV was going very fast down the street.

Six seconds after the crash on Rand Road, which sent four people to the hospital, police lights can be seen flashing. Police said the car wouldn’t stop.

Chief of Police for Naperville, Jason Arres, said, “This is a dangerous problem for all of our streets.”

It was said that the arrest was related to something that happened last month in Naperville, where two police cars tried to stop a Mercedes SUV.

The driver hit one of the police cars and then drove off. Officers chased.

As things stand, though, drivers in Illinois who flee traffic stops would only be charged with misdemeanours if they are caught.

“I think, with the law being a misdemeanour right now, there’s not a lot of accountability or fear of the punishment that comes with a misdemeanour offence,” Arres said.

Some lawmakers in the state of Illinois want to change that. Senate Bill 1807 in Illinois wants to make it a felony to “flee or attempt to elude” a police officer by car.

Chief Arres said that this kind of action has been needed for a long time, especially after seeing what’s happening in Naperville.

Thirty cars sped away from police in Naperville in 2019. That’s an average of 137 cars doing that every year for the past four years.

“I think a big part of it is, if we’re not chasing, word gets out—’Take off, and they’re not going to chase you,'” said Arres. “So you know, people talk.”

Chief of Police Gregory Thomas said that drivers in the south suburban area of Lynwood, which is close to the border with Indiana, avoid following the law.

Thomas said, “It’s almost funny.” “When we do certain traffic stops, or we detain subjects, they will ask, ‘Is this Indiana, or is this Illinois?'”

Thomas told the drivers that they know police in Indiana will chase them, but not in Illinois. If the drivers do run, it is only a misdemeanour, Thomas said.

“The criminal entity understands jurisdiction lines,” he said, “and when the criminal element know that they’re in Illinois – and sometime in particular Cook County – they take advantage of that.”

The chiefs also said that most people who run away or try to escape police are hiding something illegal in their cars.

Running from the police would not only be a crime under the state Senate bill, but people who are caught would also get one to three years more in jail.

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