Package of Ill. laws target police officers' physical, mental health

The package will require the creation of an online resource page with a comprehensive collection of mental health resources for officers


By Darren Iozia
Jacksonville Journal-Courier

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a package of legislation Thursday designed to strengthen protections of the physical and mental health of first responders.

In addition to strengthening Scott's Law — which requires drivers to move over and slow down when emergency vehicles are on the side of the road — the package will require the creation of an online resource page with a comprehensive collection of mental health resources for first responders.

"Our first responders are facing immense pressures and need real support systems so that they can attend to their health, both physical and mental," state Sen. Robert Martwick said. "These measures ensure that first responders who need to address mental health issues, have resources readily available to help them."

[RELATED: A multifaceted approach to first responder health and wellness]

Changes to Scott's Law will allow the courts to order community service along with other punishments for violating the law.

" Scott's Law should be common sense, yet every day dozens of people are breaking it and putting officers at risk. This has to change. Writing a check for a fine doesn't seem to be enough for some people, so we need to do all we can to make sure the purpose of this law is heard loud and clear — and we do that by requiring people to give up their free time to do community service work," state Sen. Julie Morrison said.

Illinois State Police reported 1,340 violations of the law during a 19-day period in February and March.

The law will also establish the Move Over Early Warning Task Force, which will study how to use technology to better help drivers safely navigate an emergency zone.

The legislation also increases penalties if a person commits a Scott's Law violation while using a handheld cellphone.

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(c)2021 the Jacksonville Journal-Courier (Jacksonville, Ill.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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