co responder signing r rPEORIA – A new law backed by State Senator Dave Koehler to establish the Co-Responder Pilot Program in an effort to offer crisis management and emotional support to survivors of crime was signed Tuesday afternoon.

“Addressing crime and violence in our communities requires a dynamic approach,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “This program takes a fresh look at ways to provide support to survivors to ensure no one falls through the cracks or goes without assistance.”

The new law, formerly House Bill 4736, requires police departments in Peoria, East St. Louis, Springfield and Waukegan to establish a co-responder unit of social workers responsible for conducting follow-up visits for victims who may benefit from mental or behavioral health services, connecting survivors with appropriate resources, and providing other necessary assistance. Mental health professionals additionally have the potential to both deescalate situations as they occur and reduce recurrent calls for assistance by helping to identify and address the root causes of many overarching issues.

The legislation also includes the creation of a Crime Reduction Task Force to develop and propose policies and procedures to reduce crime in Illinois, an expansion of the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act to create the Violent Crime Witness Protection Fund, and guidance for instruction on victim-centered and trauma-informed investigation training for homicide investigators.

“In the aftermath of a crime, especially violent, traumatic crimes, survivors may not know where to turn for support,” said Koehler. “By implementing the Co-Responder Pilot Program, we make necessary resources accessible to survivors in need.”

The Co-Responder Pilot Program and other provisions of the legislation are effective immediately.