FOP Comment on Appellate Court Decision Releasing Fulton County Child Pornography Suspect

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The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) State Lodge has issued a statement regarding the Fourth District Appellate Court decision to grant the no-cash-bail release of a man accused of child pornography.

The case involves Rodney Shaffer of Vermont, Illinois, who was arrested in Fulton County on January 12 on three counts of possession of child pornography of a child under 13 years of age. Fulton County Circuit Judge Thomas Ewing initially ordered that Shaffer be held without bail because he posed a danger to the community, and if convicted Shaffer would have to register as a sex offender. Shaffer appealed his detention, and on March 26 Fourth District Appellate Court Justices Craig DeArmond, Robert Steigmann and Amy Lannerd overturned the circuit court decision and ordered that Shaffer be released pending trial. The justices cited a provision in the state’s recently-passed Safe-T Act in their decision, citing that the Act “is heavily weighted against detention…circuit courts are to begin with the presumption that all defendants are eligible for pretrial release, no matter the charged offense.” When the case was heard again on April 11 in Fulton County Circuit Court, Judge Ewing had little recourse because of the Appellate Court decision and ordered that Shaffer be released pending trial:

“Here we go again, where judges are using an already bad law to justify putting the most vulnerable members of our community at risk even after the local judge, who knows his community, felt the suspect was a clear and present danger to our youngest citizens,” said Spoon River Valley FOP Lodge 427 President Donald “Ike” Hackett. “Child pornography is not a victimless crime, and there are plenty of innocent kids under 13 that the defendant will encounter as he freely roams our streets while awaiting trial. As bad as it is, the Safe-T Act allows judges to keep dangerous suspects in jail pending trial. This is a prime example of a terrible state law and an equally terrible interpretation of it.”

The Fraternal Order of Police, founded in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country. The Illinois FOP, chartered in 1963, is the second largest State Lodge, proudly representing more than 34,000 active duty and retired police officers – more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Visit www.ilfop.org

***Courtesy of The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police***

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