SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed into law a measure that gives local law enforcement and arson investigators a valuable tool in their efforts to track down arsonists by establishing an arsonist registry.
“Arson is a terrible crime that destroys millions of dollars in property and kills innocent victims each year,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Many arsonists are repeat offenders, but if local law enforcement and fire departments don’t know these people are living and working in their communities, they might not have the information they need to solve these arson cases.”
House Bill 4426, sponsored by Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) and Sen. James DeLeo (D-Chicago), requires arsonists to register for 10 years with law enforcement officials where they live, work or attend school. The information will be forwarded to the Illinois State Police (ISP), which will enter arsonists’ names and addresses into the Illinois Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting System (I-CLEAR). Through I-CLEAR, the information will be available to local law enforcement agencies, fire and arson investigators, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and local fire departments and fire protection districts. The State Fire Marshal’s office will make the arsonist registry available to the public on its website.
“Requiring convicted arsonists to register with the State Police and be entered into a state-wide database will go a long way in helping local law enforcement and fire department officials identify and prevent arsonists from becoming repeat offenders,” said Sen. DeLeo.
Minors who are tried and convicted as adults will also be required to register under the new act, which takes effect January 1, 2005. Until the I-CLEAR system is available statewide, the registry initially will apply to arsonists who live, work or attend school in the city of Chicago.
A $10 fee will be charged for initial registration, with a $5 annual renewal fee.
“As a firefighter myself, I know how frustrating arson investigations can be,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal J.T. Somer. “Knowing that a convicted arsonist is living in our community can be an important piece of the puzzle when investigating an arson case, one that could help us solve it before he or she has the chance to strike again.”