Illinois Senate approves bill allowing pepper spray for DCFS caseworkers

DCFS Headquarters in Springfield, Illinois
DCFS Headquarters in Springfield, Illinois(WGEM)
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 5:52 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - A proposal to help keep DCFS caseworkers safe during potentially dangerous house visits passed out of the Illinois Senate Friday. The plan says child protective investigators should be allowed to carry and use mace or pepper spray.

Two DCFS caseworkers have been killed on the job over the past few years, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say it’s time to add protections.

Deidre Silas was murdered last month while visiting a home of six children in Sangamon County. Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield) worked on this legislation to ensure investigators are safer during home investigations. It also recognizes Pam Knight, a caseworker beaten to death while investigating in 2017.

Currently, DCFS workers are not allowed to have pepper spray with them even though it is legal for anyone 18 and older. McClure told senators Friday morning that the rule needs to change quickly.

“I don’t know that this would save Deidre’s life, but it could’ve saved her life,” McClure said. “This may save, I suspect if this passes, that this will save someone’s life.”

His proposal requires the Illinois State Police to train child protective investigators on how to properly use pepper spray for self-defense. It also calls for the Department of Children and Family Services to provide funding for that training program.

This plan passed with strong bipartisan support 48-0. It should pass out of the Illinois House before session is scheduled to end on April 8.

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