Following another murder of an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employee, State Senator Steve McClure (R-Springfield) and State Representative Sandy Hamilton have filed new legislation designed to help these employees protect themselves.
“It is legal for people to carry pepper spray for their own protection, as many do all over this state. Yet DCFS workers who have to walk into abusive homes are not allowed that same protection,” said Senator McClure. “This is a common-sense step to help them stay safe while performing what is an incredibly important job.”
McClure has filed Senate Bill 4165 in the Senate and Hamilton has filed identical legislation as House Bill 5688 in the House. The bills would allow DCFS employees to carry mace or pepper spray for defensive purposes while investigating child abuse and neglect. The employees would be required to complete a short training program from the Illinois State Police on the proper use of pepper spray.
“It is sad that we have to make a law for our state workers to be able to protect themselves,” said Representative Hamilton. “It is the right thing to do so that those who are working to protect abused children can also have at least one tool to protect themselves in these situations. This is something they can keep on a key chain to disable an attacker long enough to get away and get help.”
The legislation is in response to the murders of two DCFS investigators. Deidre Silas was stabbed to death in January at a home in Thayer during the course of an investigation. In February of 2018, Pamela Knight died in the hospital from injuries sustained during a brutal attack that occurred while she was trying to take a child into protective custody.
The lawmakers unveiled their bills at a press conference at the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday, February 15th. They were joined by other lawmakers from across the state, along with former DCFS employees who spoke in support of the legislation.