I write you today to ask you and your colleagues in the legislature to take bold and decisive action against a new danger. Recent reports indicate that an out-of-state group with ties to insurrectionists and white nationalists is attempting to infiltrate Illinois law enforcement, particularly county sheriffs. Using anger over the Protect Illinois Communities Act as vehicle, the so-called “Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association” (CSPOA) is coming to Illinois. The CSPOA has been identified by both the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center as an “anti-government extremist” group. In fact, CSPOA’s founder was also a founding board member of the Oath Keepers—the insurrectionist group whose leader was recently convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes.
Despite the well-documented concerns over CSPOA activity, two Illinois sheriffs (Jefferson County Sheriff Bullard and Macon County Sheriff Root) are co-sponsoring an upcoming CSPOA training in Springfield on March 4. They are recruiting others from across the region to attend.
At the event, sheriffs will be taught how they can ignore laws they don’t like, how they can “interpose” against other governmental agencies, and potentially even arrest the governor or other elected officials they feel aren’t supporting their view of the Constitution.
At a time when law enforcement and community relations are already strained, efforts of a far-right group to infiltrate law enforcement pose a grave and growing threat to both officers and department credibility. Left unchecked, this problem will metastasize and spread.
Swift action by the Illinois legislature is necessary to protect Illinois law enforcement from infiltration by groups like CSPOA, and ensure that all people of Illinois have equal protection under the law.
If there is anything we at IREHR can do, please do not hesitate to reach out.