Rep. Windhorst Leads House Republican Public Safety Working Group

SPRINGFIELD, IL…. House Republican Floor Leader State Representative Patrick Windhorst currently serves as the Minority Spokesman on the House Judiciary Criminal Law and Restorative Justice Committees. In addition to that work, Windhorst is the leader of the House Republicans’ “Truth in Public Safety” working group. Throughout the past couple of years, Democrats in the House and Senate, and Gov. JB Pritzker, have signed off on legislation known as the SAFE-T Act. House Republicans have criticized many provisions of the controversial criminal justice reform law, citing difficulties created for police officers, public safety overall, and victims of crime as reasons for their opposition.

At a Capitol press conference on Thursday, Rep. Windhorst (R-Metropolis) and fellow House Republicans David Friess (R-Red Bud) and Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva), and John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) laid out a bold legislative package aimed at improving public safety, recruiting and retaining police officers and other law enforcement officials, and providing assistance to victims of violent crime.

“The Truth in Public Safety working group was formed at the beginning of this General Assembly. We got to work right away to put together a strong and meaningful package of legislative reforms,” Windhorst said. “The bills we are highlighting today will improve public safety, hold criminals accountable, and provide needed support to our police officers and law enforcement.”

Since the inception of the Truth in Public Safety Working group in 2023, the group has met with law enforcement groups, retired judges, state’s attorneys and other stakeholders to develop our legislative package. Last year, many legislators on the Republican side held roundtables with law enforcement officers and prosecutors.  Windhorst says the package unveiled in Springfield on Thursday proves that Republican lawmakers took the concerns of law enforcement seriously and crafted legislation to address continuing issues.

“In 2023 our group introduced over 20 bills and this year the group has introduced over 15 bills,” Windhorst said. “This legislative package focuses on supporting and protecting crime victims, giving judges wider discretion to detain people charged with felonies, and recruiting and retaining law enforcement while ensuring they are able to do their jobs.”

Legislation introduced by House Republicans serving on the Truth in Public Safety working group include:

HB 5120 – Widens the possible detention net to all felonies and also establishes the burden of proof at a detention hearing to preponderance of the evidence.

HB 5121 – Calls for the revocation of pre-trial release when the defendant is charged with an offense while on release.

HB 5126 – Restores the process for a court to issue a warrant for a defendant’s failure to appear in court.

HB 5131 – Sets up a timeline for the Department of Human Services to remove someone from county jail within 20 days if they have been found unfit to stand trial, and requires reimbursement to the county if the person is held past the 20 days. The bill is aimed at providing necessary mental health services to those individuals who have been found mentally unfit to stand trial.

HB 5133 – Allows for the creation of a county co-responder model to work with social workers to assist victims in need of mental or behavioral health services. The bill would ensure that police officers are responding to emergency calls and that social workers or behavioral health services workers would act as a partner with law enforcement, not a replacement.

“We stand ready to assist the House and Senate Democrat supermajorities in restoring law and order and safe communities throughout Illinois through these changes,” Windhorst said. “We do not have to accept the status quo of rising crime, violence in our communities, and the loss of our police officers. We can get to work together today to make important changes to protect our communities, stop crime, and save lives.”