New law strips bachelor's degree requirement for Illinois State Police Academy

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A new law no longer requires a bachelor's degree to enter the Illinois State Police Academy.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 124​ into law Friday on First Responder Day at the Illinois State Capitol.

The new law expands the field of potential candidates by now requiring either an associate degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university to join the state's police academy training program. Illinois State Police District 16 Captain Carl Heintz says this new law continues to be backed by state lawmakers because they want to stack-up against other organizations.

Heintz says, "I think the governor and the director of the State Police made it clear that they want to build our staffing back up. and provide our officers with enough support to do their mission to keep our highways safe to respond to calls for service, and you have to build up troopers if you want to build up the other entities within the agency."

If you applied before the law took effect to the Illinois State Police Academy, you are encouraged to apply again on the Illinois State Police website.

Pritzker also signed HB 2766​ to create a bipartisan First Responder Suicide Prevention Task Force, which consists of legislators from both parties, mental health providers and officials representing fire fighters and law enforcement.

“The measures I signed today build on the work we’ve done this year to better serve those who work in public safety,” said Pritzker. “Together, these initiatives move us closer to a holistic criminal justice system, one that protects law enforcement, honors public servants, respects victims, and allows the people of Illinois to go about their lives with a renewed sense of safety, justice and hope.”

Both laws take effect immediately.