During National Police Week 2023, State Representative Brad Stephens (R-Rosemont) is recognizing 20th District police officers for their commitment and service to their communities. This week allows law enforcement, survivors, and citizens to pay homage to those who gave their lives in the line of duty. It began in 1962 with President John F. Kennedy signing a proclamation to designate May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.
“Recently, the 20th District and Chicago communities have suffered from the loss of two heroes in the Chicago Police Department by gunfire—Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso and Officer Aréanah Preston,” said Rep. Stephens. “This Police Week, we offer our hearts and prayers to the loved ones of these courageous officers and commit to backing the badge for all Illinois officers and police departments. Thank you, Illinois law enforcement officers, for all you give, sacrifice, and commit to keep our communities safe. You are appreciated by the people you serve and your neighbors.”
There have been 42 line of duty deaths in the United States in 2023, and two in Illinois being Officer Vasquez Lasso (End of Watch: March 1, 2023) and Officer Preston (EOW: May 6, 2023). Of these 42 deaths, 19 were from gunfire. According to a May 2022 report from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, research suggests “police work can have a profound effect on officers” including actions taken or not taken while on the job, trauma resulting from exposure to human suffering and violence, and a relationship between years of service and mental health problems.
Rep. Stephens has co-sponsored many police-focused bills in the General Assembly, including House Bill 3162, of which he was a chief co-sponsor. This legislation will establish a presumption that Chicago police officers who obtained a disability from contracting COVID-19 were injured in the line of duty. It also entitles them to duty disability benefits. This bill became law on May 10th.
Rep. Stephens serves on the House Police & Fire Committee and has since 2021.