New Law Establishes Safe School Zones in Illinois
A new law taking effect on Jan. 1 gives police in Illinois more power to arrest people causing trouble on school grounds.
The law establishes school grounds and the sidewalks and public right-of-ways going through them as "Safe School Zones." People who come into the zones after they've been officially warned not to by school administrators, can be arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges. That includes students and school employees who have been expelled or dismissed.
The measure was sponsored by State Sen. MIke Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana).
Jakobsson said the new law gives police a new tool to deal with people from outside the school who may try to start fights or create other problems with students.
"Law enforcement needs to be able to have a little more of a zone around it to keep these people safe," Jakobsson said. "So somebody who has nothing to do with the school, maybe isn't a student there, or who has been expelled or suspended, shouldn't be on the school grounds or very close to where the safe school zone is."
Jakobsson said the idea for Safe School Zones came from a school resource officer --- that's an in-school police officer --- in the Champaign school district.
The Safe School Zones will apply only when class is in session, and the hour before and after classes and school-sponsored activities.