- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EDITORS:

NEWS DIRECTORS:

The Associated Press would like to request your help in assembling the weekly Illinois Editorial Roundup. Due to several factors, it has become more challenging to find fresh, original editorials on member websites. We would very much appreciate if you could take a few minutes to submit editorials that you would like to share with other members. They can be sent to our main email address, [email protected] Please use “Editorial Submission” as the subject line.

Please remember that we try to use editorials with appeal and interest for a statewide audience, and that not all submissions can be used. If you have any questions, please contact AP-Illinois News Editor Hugh Dellios at 312-920-3624 or [email protected] Thank you.

The AP-Illinois

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This week’s editorials:

September 20, 2014

Rockford Register Star

Body cameras improve safety of public, police

Imagine how different the conversation would have been in 2009 if the police officers who shot and killed Mark Anthony Barmore after chasing him into a downtown Rockford church had been wearing body cameras.

Witness accounts of the incident differed from what initially was reported by officers at the scene, and a divided community argued about whether the officers had acted appropriately.

We’re thankful that such incidents are rare in the Rock River Valley, and we hope we never see anything like it again. However, if something were to happen, video provided by a body camera would show an unbiased account of the event.

The public has been recording controversial events involving police for years. Police should have the power to offer an official recording of their own.

In-car dashboard cameras are common among local law enforcement agencies, but they are not as powerful a tool as body cameras would be. Local officers should be equipped with body cameras as soon as possible.

Legislation proposed by two state lawmakers could make that possibility happen more quickly.

Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, and Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, will push a bill in the veto session that would provide more money to equip police departments with body cameras for officers.

They even have a way to pay for it: People convicted of criminal or traffic offenses would pay an extra $6 surcharge. The surcharge would raise $4 million to $6 million a year, which would be split between grants for police cameras and funding for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

Representatives of the NAACP, Illinois State’s Attorneys Association and Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police have endorsed the bill.

Not everyone is waiting: The Belvidere Police Department has had one body-worn camera since 2010, and the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Department is getting body cameras for its correctional officers.

A 2005 International Association of Chiefs of Police report found that cameras aided law enforcement by improving officer safety. Cameras often confirm an officer’s version of events, the report said, in addition to reducing department liability and providing transparency for the community.

Policies and procedures will need to be created that govern when the cameras can be turned off, i.e. during breaks, but generally we think cameras should be on most of the time.

The police and the public will be safer for it.

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September 18, 2014

Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Home where heart is - and many officials

Chicago has a lot over Springfield - more people, more shopping, the new David Bowie art display, better pizza.

But it doesn’t have the state Capitol, at least not yet, and that’s something those elected to represent people in Illinois should remember.

For years, though, the Governor’s Mansion has sat silently empty most of the time as the state’s leader jets in and out from Chicago.

Notice we’re not pinning this all on Gov. Pat Quinn, who does most of his governor-like business from Chicago and seldom sees the inside of the 157-year-old, 16-room mansion in Springfield. Former governor Rod Blagojevich has by this point seen more of the inside of a prison cell than the inside of the Executive Mansion.

But as Scott Reeder of the Illinois News Network told readers this week, it seems to be a trend among a lot of elected officials.

The state constitution requires those who hold an elected statewide office to have a residence in Springfield. None of the current constitutional officers has a primary residence there, Reeder found.

Even more, those who have a residence in Springfield to meet the constitutional requirement are getting monthly expenses to pay for them.

Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka each get $1,500 a month, followed closely by Secretary of State Jesse White’s $1,250. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is reimbursed $935 and Attorney General Lisa Madigan gets $850, according to lease agreements Reeder obtained.

Granted, in the bottomless well that is the state budget, this is a mere pittance. But any money that could be used for pressing needs instead of second addresses just seems like a waste.

There’s also the subtle message that gets sent - that Springfield is the theoretical heart of government.

There’s no place like home. Everybody from John Howard Payne to Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” knows that.

And if constitutional officials decide they want to spend time safe and snug in their own beds away from Springfield, it’s unlikely voters are going to raise too much of a fuss.

But taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for elected officials to meet the rules of a job they sought knowing the requirements that came with it.

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September 18, 2014

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register

Anchor’s cancer struggle hits home

As WCIA-TV evening news anchor Dave Benton shared his own devastating health news with viewers across central Illinois last week, he made it a point to acknowledge that cancer is a battle many people and their loved ones face every day.

Indeed, about 66,800 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed among Illinoisans in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. Nationwide, the figure is about 1.7 million.

And, unfortunately, nearly 586,000 Americans are expected to die of cancer this year - about 1,600 people each day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the country, surpassed only by heart disease.

Benton, who is about to mark nine years with the Champaign-based TV station, recently was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and he has an estimated four to six months to live because the tumor is too big for surgery or radiation.

Benton’s news made headlines across the country, and video of his emotional revelation with co-anchor Jennifer Roscoe was viewed and shared thousands of times. He thanked viewers for their support and graciously acknowledged that many of them have their own struggles with cancer.

The media is a conduit for human connection, and when someone in the public eye reveals a devastating, life-altering or potentially fatal struggle, we can’t help but take it personally.

Benton’s face and voice have been beamed into our living room televisions and laptop computers for nine years, informing and entertaining us along the way. He’s a part of the community, and his struggle is our struggle.

The State Journal-Register and the Springfield community wish him, his family and his colleagues at WCIA-TV strength and peace as they make this journey together.

And Benton is right when he says everyone who is fighting cancer or other severe health issues deserves as much support as possible. We wish strength and peace for all of them, too.

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