SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) — Governor JB Pritzker signed several pieces of legislation Friday to expand, and fund more programs within the Illinois State Police department.
Appropriately, it is First Responders Day at the Illinois State Fair. The signed bills and executive orders provide resources and scholarships for families of fallen troopers, and makes lab work processes more transparent, particularly for victims of sexual assault awaiting the results of a rape kit.
“Together, these initiatives move us closer to a holistic criminal justice system, one that protects law enforcement, honors public servants, respects victims, and allows the people of Illinois to go about their lives with a renewed sense of safety, justice and hope," Pritzker said.
Prospective troopers will no longer need Bachelor’s degrees to join the force. Acting ISP Director Brendan Kelly said the training they receive in the academy has no relation to a major in higher education. Candidates will still need an Associate degree, or 60 credits to apply. This measure is effective immediately.
"Along with additional cadet classes, and the largest capital investment in the ISP in the history of the Illinois State Police, this is a hell of a good start," Kelly said, referring to the upcoming changes.
The governor is also implementing a peer-to-peer program as a way for first responders to maintain mental health in an emotionally taxing job. Suicide prevention and general wellness will be the main focuses of the peer support program.
Kelly said the peer program will help troopers connect with each other regarding the job’s stress without worrying about what a higher up supervisor might think of their possible struggles.