Illinois bill would require police lights, sirens

| 9/2/2008

A new bill in the Illinois House is intended to help prevent wrecks between law enforcement vehicles and the motoring public.

Rep. Ron Wait, R-Belvidere, has offered for consideration a bill that would require police vehicles to activate sirens and warning lights while driving in excess of the posted speed limit to emergency calls.

Advocates for the rule say they want to prevent incidents similar to a January 2006 wreck that involved a sheriff’s deputy in Winnebago County, IL, and another vehicle. Two men died and a woman suffered permanent brain injuries, the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, IL, reported.

Others say it is a commonsense solution.

Some law enforcement officials, however, say they are concerned that the legislation would unnecessarily micromanage law enforcement. They also question whether a state law is necessary because some agencies already have similar rules in place.

To help officers during such circumstances as needing to arrive at scenes without lights or sirens activated as a safety measure, the bill includes a provision that would allow law enforcement to use “a covert approach during an emergency response situation when the situation dictates.”

The bill – HB6683 – is in the House Rules Committee. The measure could come up for consideration during the fall veto session in November, but it is more likely to draw debate in the spring.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor