$5 million in law enforcement funding to go to mental health from Illinois budget


The new budget signed by Governor JB Pritzker takes $5 million from the state’s 911 fund to create a new number for mental health emergencies, a move the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police says , was taken without the knowledge of law enforcement groups.

The move raises concerns from the group that what it says could be negative consequences for local 911 operations across the state.

The budget package approved by lawmakers in the early hours of the morning on the last day of session earlier this month creates the Statewide 988 Trust Fund. The Department of Social Services will use the fund to establish and maintain a suicide prevention and mental health crisis system.

To fund the new 988 program, the budget transfers $5 million from the Statewide 911 Fund.

The latest numbers from the Illinois Comptroller’s website show the Statewide 911 Fund has $81.6 million and is administered by the Illinois State Police.

“The $5 million sweep was conducted without the knowledge of law enforcement,” the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police said in a statement this week. “We are in close communication with the Illinois State Police and others on this matter to determine what our next best steps will be to protect our 911 centers and to ensure that Illinois suffers no consequences from the federal government by sweeping away 911 funds.”

Pritzker was asked about the fund sweep this week. Despite signing the budget, he was unaware of the exact details.

“I can’t speak to that specifically, because I haven’t looked at that, but the 988 number that we’re setting up and throwing out takes a huge burden off our police, those are for mental health calls,” Pritzker says. .

Police chiefs are calling on the state to postpone the sweep and on lawmakers to change that budget provision when they return to the state capitol after the November election.

The Statewide 911 Fund is derived from surcharges on telephone bills that consumers pay. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has said it intends to ask the governor to veto that part of the budget, but it’s too late. Cutting the fund could make the state ineligible for federal grants at a time when next-generation 911 operations ramp up, the chiefs said.

Number 988 is expected to roll out in July. Pritzker has championed the creation of a new hotline focused on mental health emergencies.

“Otherwise you would end up with a policeman and sometimes tragedy resulted,” Pritzker said. “We want to differentiate between a mental health need that is an emergency and a 911 crime-related emergency.”


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