penalties for police impersonation win final legislative approval;
Gov. Blagojevich pledges to sign
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Legislation would increase jail time for police impersonation,
create new offense for impersonation while carrying a deadly weapon,
and broaden definition of peace officer to include local, state and
[MARCH 30, 2006]
CHICAGO -- On Wednesday Gov. Rod R.
Blagojevich praised the Illinois State Senate for passing House
Bill 5336, a bill that will increase penalties for impersonating
a police officer or firefighter. The legislation, sponsored by Rep.
Harry Osterman, D-Chicago, and Sen. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, would
toughen penalties for anyone who impersonates a police officer or
firefighter while committing a more serious crime and would broaden
the definition of peace officer to include local, state or federal
officials. The bill passed the House unanimously in February and now
moves to the governor's desk. The governor will sign the bill.
The governor proposed the legislation in January in response to a
Chicago Sun-Times series that highlighted more than 1,000 police
impersonation cases in the Chicago area over the last three years.
"Our police officers and firefighters work hard to keep us safe,"
Blagojevich said. "The idea that someone would pretend to be a
police officer or firefighter and put people's lives in jeopardy is
wrong and it's dangerous. That's why this bill is so important."
House Bill 5336 would increase penalties for aggravated false
personation of peace officer to a Class 2 felony, carrying a
sentence of three to seven years in jail and up to four years
probation, and would also broaden the definition of peace officer to
include any homeland security officers and local, state or federal
authorities. The legislation would also create a new class of false
personation, making impersonation of a peace officer or firefighter
while carrying a deadly weapon a Class 3 felony, and would make it a
Class 2 felony to unlawfully stop another person while operating a
car that has flashing or rotating lights.
"Most law-abiding citizens respect law enforcement officials and
will follow the instructions given to them," said Roskam, Senate
sponsor of the legislation. "Unfortunately, there are criminals who
seek to take advantage of the trust people put in law enforcement
officers and use it for their own purposes. Sometimes it is just
people with a warped sense of humor, but other times it is something
far more sinister. We need to address this growing problem, and
House Bill 5336 is one step in that process."
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"Fake cops in Illinois and throughout the nation are continuing
to use a variety of tricks to deceive their victims," said Osterman,
House sponsor of the bill. "These people are some of the worst kinds
of criminals. Impersonating a public official not only violates the
trust of innocent people, but it undermines the role of peace
officers in the community. This bill would increase the penalties
for those who misrepresent themselves and take advantage of the
In January, the Sun-Times documented a number of police
impersonation cases in Chicago, including one man who was sentenced
to only 24 months' probation and 10 days' community service for
posing as a fake cop -- even though he attacked a man at gunpoint.
In another case, charges were dismissed against a man who allegedly
identified himself as "ISA-Homeland Security" to get out of a
traffic ticket because current law applies only to people claiming
to be police officers, not U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Last year, Blagojevich signed legislation making it illegal to
impersonate a pilot in restricted areas of Illinois airports. The
law makes the impersonation of a pilot, airline employee, airport
employee or contractor in restricted areas of an airport a Class 4
felony, punishable by one to three years in prison. The bill also
prohibits anyone from claiming or falsely representing that they are
a pilot, airline employee, airport employee or contractor at an
airport in order to obtain the uniform, identification card or
license of any airport or airline employee.
House Bill 5336 will take effect immediately after the governor's
[News release from the governor's