SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) – A few times over the past year, Amber Oberheim has visited the Illinois Capitol to speak with lawmakers.
She was joined by other widows of officers who died in service.
While there, she advocated for law enforcement officers at all levels.
“I think public safety is huge,” Oberheim said. “And officer safety is part of that.”
Lawmakers fought for months over how to address public safety, but finally decided where to put their money.
The Illinois budget included millions of dollars in law enforcement investments and new commitments to help with training and recruiting for state departments.
“Illinois has never seen such a robust effort to fight and solve crime,” Gov. JB Pritzker said the morning after the legislature passed the budget.
Seeing these items added to the legislative checklist proved to Oberheim that his trips to Springfield were not in vain.
“We are making progress,” Oberheim said. “There are discussions taking place, which makes me happy, both sides of the table seem to be able to come together and agree on certain things, which is better than where we were.”
Oberheim joined a roundtable of law enforcement officials in Decatur on Monday night. Republican candidate for the 13th congressional district, Jesse Reising, moderated the roundtable.
Part of this roundtable focused on public attitudes towards the police. Oberheim, who advocates for law enforcement flew her to other states and will bring her to Washington DC later this month, pointed to those attitudes as the real reason departments are struggling to fill vacant positions.
“I hear a lot of things like, police officers signed up to do this job. So what are they waiting for? said Oberheim. Well, I don’t think anyone signs up to do a job where they get shot on a regular occasion.
Reising also seized on the rhetoric surrounding the police — a common tactic for Republicans in this election cycle.
“The tone starts at the top with those in leadership positions, and we need to change the tone to portray the profession of law enforcement as the noble profession we all know it is.”
Oberheim said the state is far from its ideal finish line. Until they reach that point, she will continue to make more trips to the Capitol.
“I would like to see a little tougher penalties, a little tougher consequences for some of the heinous acts that people choose, you know, to commit,” Oberheim said. “So until that happens, I’m probably not going to stop visiting the Capitol.”