CHICAGO—Gov. Rod Blagojevich today ordered major reforms to Illinois' Executive Protection Unit, reducing the size of the unit by 25%, reforming the standards that govern the unit's out of state travel, and issuing an executive order that requires all members of the executive protection unit to undergo training by the United States Secret Service, and creates a new code of conduct and professionalism that all members of the unit must adhere to.
Over the last several weeks, allegations regarding misconduct within the Executive Protection Unit, overstaffing and insufficient training were raised by WLS-TV in Chicago. When Blagojevich learned of the allegations, he ordered an immediate review of the Executive Protection Unit, including how similar units function in other states. The Governor's review led to four major reforms, including:
Reducing the Size of the Executive Protection Unit by 25%. While the current Executive Protection Unit uses less overtime and has reduced spending by $1 million, Blagojevich believes that adequate security can be maintained with fewer officers. By reducing the unit by 25%, the size of Illinois' Executive Protection Unit will now be comparable to units in similarly sized states. The officers leaving the Executive Protection Unit will be transferred to other roles within the State Police, including fulfilling the Governor's mandate to increase the number of front-line police officers by 500 over the next four years.
Limiting Executive Protection Unit Staffing for Out of State Travel. The number of members from the Executive Protection Unit with the Governor when he travels to other states will be significantly limited, and security will instead be sought from the state being visited. Only essential staffing will come from the Illinois State Police. This reform has been implemented immediately, applying to the Governor's trip today to Washington D.C., where he is meeting with other Governors about Illinois I-Save Rx program and with Pentagon officials about protecting Illinois' military bases.
Requiring Members of the Executive Protection Unit to Undergo Training from the United States Secret Service. All members of the Executive Protection Unit will be required to undergo training provided by the United States Secret Service to ensure the highest levels of professionalism. This is the first time that members of Illinois' Executive Protection Unit will be required to undergo training from the Secret Service.
Institute a New Code of Conduct and Professionalism. A new code of conduct, governing professionalism, training, and on-the-job behavior, will be written, issued and strictly enforced for the Executive Protection Unit. All members of the unit will be required to follow the code of conduct. The code of conduct is intended to help change the culture of the Executive Protection Unit: a culture that has seen both years of service and professionalism from countless hard working, dedicated officers, and a history also marred by some incidents of misconduct over the last several decades.
The reforms ordered by Blagojevich will be implemented over the next several weeks. The 25% reduction to the size of the Executive Protection Unit will be in effect by the end of December. The restrictions on out of state travel took effect immediately. Training by the Secret Service will begin in early January, and the new code of conduct will be completed by the end of the month.
The goal of these reforms is to bring the operations of the Executive Protection Unit in line with the other reforms and changes that have been implemented over the last two years, including passing landmark ethics reforms, consolidating 20 state agencies, cutting spending by $3 billion in areas outside of education and health care, reforming and overhauling the Tollway system, finding ways to make prescription drugs less expensive, bringing accountability to the Illinois State Board of Education, and restoring dignity to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
"When I took office, my mission was clear: bring change and reform to virtually every part of state government. Over the last two years, that's what we've tried to do in areas ranging from ethics reform to making government smaller and less expensive to making the Tollway Authority and State Board of Education more accountable. However, when we took office, we were told that security was something you don't question. We wanted the unit to cut costs, and we reduced spending by nearly $1 million. But when it came to the unit's operations, we were told to leave it to the professionals, and we did. That was a mistake. Reform was just as needed in the Executive Protection Unit as it was in nearly every other part of state government. That was made clear over the last two weeks, when Channel 7 in Chicago brought serious and significant concerns about the Executive Protection Unit to light. The concerns they raised are valid, and we take them seriously. I can't promise that we'll never make any mistakes. But I can tell you that if we do, we'll act quickly to fix them. That's why I ordered an immediate review of the Executive Protection Unit. And it's why I issued an executive order today implementing these major reforms."