On Jan. 30, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order creating “safe areas” for use of heroin and other opiates — under supervision. This is a part of the $4.1 million to help fight Illinois’ opioid crisis.
The executive order allows for significant tax dollars to be spent establishing the supervised consumption sites for opiates, according to Massac County Sheriff Chad Kaylor, and he and other sheriffs across the state in the Illinois Sheriff’s Association are voicing their concerns about the proposed safe consumption sights.
An executive order is something, which neither the public nor lawmakers had the chance to debate or voice concerns about. “The governor took it upon himself to spend millions of tax dollars to create areas where people can break the law and be safe from consequences,” said Kaylor.
According to Kaylor, the idea behind the consumption sights is a way healthcare professionals may monitor drug users in an attempt to reduce the number of drug overdoses.
“There is definitely a need for recovery and treatment services. But I cannot get behind a plan, which allows people to possess and use illegal narcotics without consequences,” said Kaylor, who agrees 100% that there should be more drug rehabilitation sites, not safe consumption sites.
“There appears to be a trend in this state to make offenders less accountable for crimes they commit,” said Kaylor, who points out Springfield has already passed and implemented bail reform, which allows an inmate to receive a $30 credit toward their bond. This credit is given to inmates who are considered “non-violent.”
He says now Springfield is working on criminal justice reform. “It is possible under criminal justice reform, a law enforcement officer will not be able to arrest and incarcerate someone who has committed a crime, which is considered non-violent,” said Kaylor.
“If the current trend in Springfield continues, a law enforcement officer would only be able to give a citation to an offender with a court date for many crimes committed,” explained Kaylor, also saying, “How far is it going to go?” he asks. Kaylor worries about how the laws are being changed because it is changing how law enforcement will be able to handle certain crimes.
According to Kaylor, if safe consumption sights were introduced as legislation, and lawmakers could have discussed the plan, it is possible if there had been enough public outcry, it might have been able to stop it. “But, with an executive order, our [law enforcement] hands are tied,” he says.
“In my 18 years with Massac County Sheriff’s Office, I have watched what meth has done to the community. I cannot see how allowing someone to possess and use ‘hard core drugs’ with immunity will solve this crisis,” said Kaylor, adding, “I can tell you all law enforcement officers in Massac County will continue to do their jobs even with legislation that is restricting them.”
Although no safe consumption sights have been announced in Massac County, during the course of the next six months, the Illinois Department of Human Services will conduct a study to look into what the consumption sights may look like in the state and would help determine where the sights are placed.