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Sen. Darren Bailey proposes bill to execute those convicted of killing police officers

A new proposal from downstate legislators would reinstate the death penalty for those convicted...
A new proposal from downstate legislators would reinstate the death penalty for those convicted of killing an officer in the line of duty.(WGEM)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 4:09 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Xenia Senator and gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey are looking to reinstate the death penalty for those convicted of killing a police officer in the line of duty.

He and Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R - Effingham), citing a “lawless” culture and “radical” agenda, aim to use the legislation to combat violent crime in the state, especially against law enforcement.

“What we can do is stand up and make sure that it is known far and wide that in Illinois, you commit a crime of murdering a police officer in the line of duty, you’re violent actions will be answered with the full weight of capital punishment in our judicial system,” Bailey said.

Advocates for the bill include law enforcement and family of those killed in the line of duty. Amber Oberheim, the widow of Champaign officer Chris Oberheim, said she’s felt the need to speak out since her husband was killed last year.

“It’s time for the pendulum to swing back to good, right and noble,” Amber said. “It’s time for our state to adopt the values that our country was built on.”

Chris was shot and killed in the line of duty in the early hours of May 19, 2021, during an altercation with Darion Lafayette. Lafayette was killed in the altercation and not prosecuted.

The death penalty was abolished in Illinois in 2011. Under the proposed legislation, prosecutors would be able to ask for the death penalty when sentencing convicts of first-degree murder relating to officers. Currently, those convicted of killing an officer in the line of duty can be sentenced to life in prison as the maximum sentence.

Bill advocates called the rise in crime “unprecedented.” Effingham Police Chief Jason McFarland, a fourth-generation police officer, said he is in support of stricter punishments for violent offenders.

“It is important to remember, when one of us dies, it has an impact not only with the family but the communities. There must be some kind of mechanism or punishment that can match - I guess it will never match the loss felt by the family, but there must be something more than just prison”

Similar legislation was introduced by Sen. Neil Anderson (R - Moline) and Sen. Dale Fowler (R - Harrisburg) that would allow prosecutors to seek executions for those convicted of killing first responders such as firefighters and EMTs.

Bailey said he will support whichever legislation moves further in the Illinois General Assembly, along with legislation to repeal the SAFE-T act, which critics of legislation are blaming for the rise in crime. However, it’s not likely the legislation will move out of committee.

“They will get a thorough review,” a spokesperson for Senate President Don Harmon said of the proposals.

Bailey did not take campaign questions at the announcement, saying it was an official state event for legislation. However, his actions are similar to fellow Republican candidates Richard Irvin and Jesse Sullivan. Both rolled out campaign ads expressing support for the police.

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