Senator Dave Syverson Hosted a panel discussion regarding the Safe-T-Act and its Impact on Boone County Residents.
Senator Syverson introduced the panel and shared that he appreciates that Boone County is a safe place and appreciates the work that Scott, Tricia, Pam, and their teams do to support that.
Sherriff Yunk started by sharing that he feels blessed to be in Boone County. A team has been meeting for 2 years now to prepare for the implementation of the Safe-T Act. He is concerned about the corrections team and the impact of these changes on that team. He is working to put together an appropriate budget. Staffing and budget are currently in flux because we don't know what our population will look like. There will be situations where in the past they'd have posted bond and would not have to stay the weekend. Now many of those situations will mean staying the weekend and the corrections team will have to feed those individuals as well as have staffing to supervise. Dispatch is another place that will see an increase in work. The dispatch has regular calls with other counties as well as with State's Attorney Smith's office. Sherriff Yunk also expressed how this changes the day-to-day behavior of veteran officers who need to respond differently to situations than they have in the past.
State's Attorney, Tricia Smith shared a quick overview of the act. She shared that the largest piece of the act is the elimination of cash bail. There are basically three categories that inform the officers how to react to a situation. Petty Offenses - the person will be given a notice to appear and be released. There are certain times when in this category someone could still be lodged and that includes if they persist in the activity, appear to be having a mental or physical breakdown, or won't give their identity. With class A misdemeanors, Class 4 Felonies, in cases of Battery, DUI, and Possession officers have the discretion to lodge or give the notice to appear. The States attorney's office has given guidance to officers on making these decisions. In situations of class 3 felonies or higher, domestic battery, or broken restraining orders those individuals are lodged. Anyone lodged must be seen in court the next business day. Now the court has to say there are no other things that could be put in place to retain the individual. Each day the State's Attorney's office has to look at how many individuals are in custody and file a petition to detail for each of those people. No orders are allowed at pretrial because the individual has not been found guilty. Hearings are longer and more staff time is required to ensure a case can be made by the next business day. Summons are now issued rather than a warrant. This all leads to higher costs and lower income from fines and bonds.
Boone County Circuit Clerk, Pamela Coduto shared that this has meant a need for her staff to change their schedules so that someone can be available by 7:30 to support court at 8:30. Mondays and the day after a holiday court is now at 8:30 where it was at 1:15 in the past and they had more time to prepare. They had to create all new forms. There is also a financial impact to this for many government-supported groups. Historically bond or bail was paid and held on account until the end of the trial where the money would be divided out but now those monies will not be received.
We appreciate Senator Syverson bringing this panel together to share this impact.