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NewsProposals to protect DCFS caseworkers move forward in Springfield

April 5, 2022

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – Illinois state lawmakers are one step closer to allowing DCFS caseworkers to carry pepper spray during potentially dangerous home visits.

The proposal was quickly introduced by lawmakers this session after two DCFS investigators were killed on the job in the past few years.

Deidre Silas was murdered in January while visiting a home of six children in Sangamon County. The legislation also recognizes Pam Knight, a caseworker beaten to death while investigating in 2017.

This plan passed out of the Senate with strong bipartisan support last month, but it hit a roadblock in the House until Thursday.

The latest amendment states the Department of Children and Family Services must work with Illinois State Police to identify approved pepper spray devices and develop training for frontline staff by January 1. Mace could only be used if a worker wants to incapacitate someone attempting to assault them or to escape from a dangerous situation when there is no other alternative.

Caseworkers would also be required to seek medical attention for any bystanders near the pepper spray. The language also calls for detailed reporting when mace is used.

However, advocates for youth in care are still opposed.

“There is no protection towards the people that are being sprayed to make sure that they warranted being sprayed whatsoever,” said James McIntyre, Founder of the Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter. “The way that this bill is written will cause somebody to be sprayed in an inappropriate manner and sue the state of Illinois.”

Read more on wifr.com.

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A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website (www.elections.il.gov) or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.

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