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Peoria County Sheriff addresses a house bill that would require officers to have Bachelor’s Degree

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PEORIA (HOI) - Criminal justice reform continues to be a hot topic in Springfield. Several new house bills would make changes to policing statewide.

A new house bill (HB 3961) sponsored by Chicago Democrat Jaime Andrade would require all police officers to have a Bachelor's Degree with either a major or minor in social work.

We spoke to Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell Sunday about the impact this bill could have, if passed."I always advocate for training and education. But to specify social work, I know a lot of social workers that don't have a social work degree," Asbell explained.

Sheriff Asbell went on to explain his position that social work courses could be worked into already existing criminal justice curriculum or at the training academy. "I would argue if they want that type of training to enter that into the police training academy," said Asbell.

Asbell said it's too early to speculate if this bill will pass.

But he did say recent reform measures have had an impact on their ability to retain and recruit employees.

Asbell said they've lost 19 people since January 1. Twelve of them were corrections officers. He explained many of them are looking to further their career by taking a patrol position at another department.

After conducting exit interviews, he says there are lots of reasons people are leaving, but the majority say current attitudes toward law enforcement played a role.

"It's like a perfect storm. And unfortunately I'm afraid it's going to get worse before it gets better," said Asbell.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

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