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Marion County Board warned pending state legislation would end police as we know it

Marion County Board warned pending state legislation would end police as we know it

The Marion County Board was warned Tuesday night pending legislation in Springfield would have dire consequences for police.

Law Enforcement Committee Chair and Centralia Police Administrative Sergeant Steve Whritenour says if passed the legislation will take effect immediately with no planning time.

“This is a bill that basically abolishes the police.  I’ve never had fear in my 47 years of life as I have talking to you right now.  This is a game-changer on so many levels.”

Whritenour says this isn’t just about law enforcement, but about protections for everyone in the community.

“[If this passes,] we have to meet.  I’m not sure how we move forward.  Police officers, county deputies, state troopers are all going to have to purchase malpractice insurance like a doctor.  Everybody will have to have it.  Municipalities across the state will have to look very hard in how they are going to do that.”

Whritenour says it is not practical for officers to provide their own malpractice insurance and he estimates the cost to Marion County to do so would be in the area of $1-million a year.

The bill would also mandate body cameras. Whritenour doesn’t see the body cams as a bad thing, but there is no money to purchase them included in the bill that would have a price tag of around $50,000 for Marion County alone.

He feels the state needs discussion on “police reform” rather than dismantling law enforcement.