Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and the board are against the Illinois SAFE-T act, which it feels gives more breaks to criminals and hurts victims. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and the board are against the Illinois SAFE-T act, which it feels gives more breaks to criminals and hurts victims. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park board calls SAFE-T Act ‘massive threat’ to residents

By Jeff Vorva

It’s called the Safe-T Act.

And, to hear the members of the Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees talk about it, there is nothing very safe about it and it’s something they feel that people in this state should be very worried about, come New Year’s Day 2023.

“I cannot even begin to tell you how dangerous this act is,” Pekau said at the Sept. 6 board meeting. “This is a massive threat to the residents of Orland Park, Cook County and the state of Illinois.”

The board unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the act and imploring state leaders to rescind it.

So, what is this act and why are board members so angry about it?

The full title of it is the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act. It was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in early 2021 and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker.

Critics say it gives major leniency toward criminals.

“You think of this and the repercussions of your kids and grandkids and the direction these types of acts are having on society as a whole,” Trustee Cynthia Nelson Katsenes said. “The criminals are having more and more rights and the victims are being pushed aside.”

“Safety has gone off the rails,” added Trustee William Healy.

According to village officials, some of the key elements to the act are:

Abolition of cash bail for almost every offense. Including, but not limited to, kidnapping, armed robbery, second-degree murder, drug-induced homicide, aggravated DUI, threatening a public official and aggravated fleeing and eluding.

Offenders released on electronic monitoring have to be in violation for 48 hours before law enforcement can act.

“They can be in Alaska before we can even start looking for them,” Pekau said.

It denies victims their constitutional rights.

Officers will no longer be able to remove trespassers from residences or places of business.

“Someone could decide to live in your shed, and all we could do is give them a ticket,” Pekau said.

The mayor added that there will be even more legislation on the horizon that could be bad for citizens.

He said there is a bill that would remove school resource officers from schools, including Carl Sandburg High School.

“The city of Chicago has already done this,” Pekau said. “I personally do not want to see the city of Chicago become the standard for how we conduct public safety because they have abandoned their police officers, abandoned their residents and created a war zone full of criminals.”

Although Republicans are the most vocal about this, Trustee Sean Kampas points out that Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow went on record in July saying that 640 detainees in his jail, including 60 with murder charges against them, will all have their bonds extinguished come Jan. 1.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Kampas said. “The Will County State’s Attorney is a Democrat.”

In the past couple of years, Pekau and the board have been railing against what they feel is Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s leniency toward those charged with felonies and Pekau has been outspoken about the fact that many people he feels should be in jail are free and coming to towns such as Orland Park.

The mayor lauds the police department for keeping residents safe, but he is bracing for the cops to be stretched even thinner thanks to the SAFE-T Act.

“This is Kim Foxx’s policy on steroids,” Pekau said. “This is worse than her policies.”

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