protects emergency management workers
Penalties same as for those who injure or kill police, firefighters
and EMS workers
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[JULY 18, 2005]
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed
legislation Saturday to strengthen penalties for people who injure
or kill emergency management workers and volunteers while they are
responding to an emergency. The new law also increases penalties for
individuals who attempt to prevent emergency management workers from
performing their jobs and imposes a mandatory sentence of natural
life in prison for first-degree murder of an emergency management
"Whether responding to tornadoes, floods, major vehicle accidents or
house fires, emergency management workers are out there on the front
lines, often shoulder-to-shoulder with other first responders like
police and firefighters," Blagojevich said. "We already impose
higher penalties on those who harm a police officer or firefighter
in the line of duty, and it's only right that we do the same for our
dedicated emergency management workers."
Sponsored by Rep. Dan
Reitz, D-Sparta, and Sen. William Haine, D-Alton,
Senate Bill 190 increases penalties for violence against
emergency management workers while they are performing their duties.
Workers include both paid and volunteer workers for local and county
emergency management agencies, the Illinois Emergency Management
Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red
Cross, and any other local, state or federal agencies assisting in
"Anyone who attempts to harm or interfere with the work of any
type of first responder deserves the strongest penalties possible,"
Reitz said. "During a crisis, we all depend on these workers, many
of whom are unpaid volunteers serving their communities in a time of
need. We cannot tolerate anyone who endangers the lives of these
"The work emergency management workers do is hard and sometimes
dangerous," Haine said. "It is unthinkable that someone would try to
interfere with their work or harm them, but if they do, this should
send a strong message that we won't stand for that in Illinois."
[to top of second column in this article]
Tom Smith, president of the Illinois Emergency Services
Management Association, applauded the governor's signing of the
"We appreciate the governor's recognition of the important work
that emergency management plays in responding to emergencies," Smith
said. "The enactment of this legislation provides further protection
to those who are on the front lines serving those in need."
Emergency management workers often find themselves in harm's way
-- whether responding to a disaster or an emergency. This
legislation will serve as a strong deterrent for Illinoisans to be
careful when they encounter emergency workers and builds on the
governor's public safety efforts -- especially on the roads.
The governor announced Thursday [July 14] that a record 86
percent of drivers are wearing their seat belts, up 10 percent from
just two years ago. At the same time, 2005 is on pace to record the
lowest number of people killed on Illinois highways since 1924.
Forty-one fewer people have lost their lives on Illinois highways
during the first six months this year than in the same time period
Senate Bill 190 was unanimously approved by the General Assembly.
The new provisions go into effect Jan. 1, 2006.
[News release from the governor's