A new law in Illinois is intended to help the Illinois State Police purchase new vehicles and outfit all squad cars with video cameras.
While confronted with calls for his resignation following his arrest this month on federal corruption charges, Gov. Rod Blagojevich took time to sign a bill into law – SB450 – that increases most vehicle registration fees by $1 to help foot the cost for replacing Illinois State Police squad cars. It is expected to generate about $9.5 million.
Starting in 2010 the $78 annual cost of registrations for vehicles weighing up to 8,000 pounds will be raised $1 a year. The rate increase is intended to be deposited into a special state fund for new State Police vehicles.
Supporters said the squad cars on average have racked up more than 170,000 miles. Along with the high odometer reading, they said the vehicles are increasingly unsafe and unreliable.
Critics of the plan, primarily Republicans, don’t trust Blagojevich to spend the money on State Police vehicles. They point out that there are no provisions in the bill prohibiting the Democratic governor from diverting the funds for other uses.
Also included in the new law is a provision addressing police use of video and audio recording of traffic stops. In-car video cameras are authorized for all squad cars. By June 2011, the devices will be required to have capability to record for 10 hours.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor