Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Illinois State Police changes education requirements for applicants

Right now, the Illinois State Police is changing its policies to draw in more potential new hires. 

Starting next year, you will no longer need a bachelor's degree to apply to be a state trooper.
Applicants will now only need an associate’s degree or 60 credits of course work.

The reason? A shortage of state police in Illinois.

In 2009, the state police had approximately 2,119 troopers. Today, they only have about 1,767. "We don't have enough troopers out there in my opinion, We need to be out there patrolling the interstates," said Hector Alejandre, a master sergeant with the Illinois State Police.

University of Illinois Springfield political science professor Ryan Williams believes that this will open doors to lower-income applicants. "A two-year degree might be more affordable for the population that can't afford a four-year degree,” said Williams.

Williams said a bachelor's degree does help in certain areas. "An education helps them be more empathetic,” said Williams. “It helps them write better when they have to write reports." Overall, he said lowering academic requirements won't make a big difference in everyday police work.

ISP officials said they also offer tuition reimbursements if troopers want to go back to college after they're hired. They are actively recruiting for their 2020 state trooper class.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on October 8, 2019.

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Illinois Innocence Project case gets clemency hearing

A Chicago woman whose 1992 double murder conviction was taken up by the Springfield-based Illinois Innocence Project will have a clemency hearing before the Prisoner Review Board at the Thompson Center on Wednesday.

Marilyn Mulero’s co-defendant in the case has repeatedly confessed to being the sole murderer of Jimmy Cruz and Hector Reyes, both members of the Latin Kings gang.

Mulero originally was sentenced to death, though that sentence was later reduced to life without parole.

There have been 19 exonerations to date involving the two Chicago police detectives, Reynaldo Guevara and Ernest Halvorsen, who arrested Mulero.

The Illinois Innocence Project (IIP), which is based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been joined by The Exoneration Project and the California Innocence Project in representing Mulero.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 8, 2019.

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Men's Soccer: Falsone powers UIS to second straight win

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s soccer team cruised to a 5-1 victory over Truman State at Kiwanis Stadium for its second straight win Sunday.

Mario Falsone scored both of his goals in the first half for a 3-1 halftime advantage. He converted a penalty kick during the 6th minute and struck again midway through the half for his fourth goal of the season.

Dan Mahoney made it 2-0 with his second goal of the season, assisted by Harry Hiscock. Mario Gonzalez and Drew Keller each tacked on a goal in the second half to lift UIS to 5-4-1 overall and 3-3-1 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 6, 2019.

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Women's Volleyball: UIS volleyball wins seventh straight

The University of Illinois Springfield volleyball team pushed its winning streak to seven matches following Saturday’s four-set victory over Maryville at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Brianna Bush was a defensive juggernaut, totaling 11 blocks on top of nine kills.

The Stars (12-4 overall, 4-0 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) recorded 17.5 blocks while Maryville had four. Becca Blakeley tallied 46 assists while Rachel Cobert had a team-high 15 kills. Hannah Nicolaisen added 11 kills for UIS.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 5, 2019.

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

As UIS marks wrongful convictions, exoneree says the fight continues

On Wednesday morning, students involved with the Illinois Innocence Project planted 2,492 small flags on the University of Illinois Springfield quad representing the number of men and women who have been exonerated of crimes since 1989.

In the middle of the display were 304 “UIS blue flags,” signifying the number of Illinois exonerees from that time.

“For me (this day) is a reminder of where I was years ago,” said Angel Gonzalez of Waukegan, who gained his freedom with the help of the Illinois Innocence Project after spending nearly 21 years in prison.

“It’s also a reminder that there are still a lot of men and women fighting to prove their innocence. It’s a joyful day, but at the same time it keeps me connected to what’s going on.”

The Illinois Innocence Project, which was founded at UIS in 2001, was one of about 50 or so innocence organizations marking International Wrongful Conviction Day, first started in 2014. 

Gonzalez, who was convicted of sexual assault 25 years ago before gaining the help of the New York-based Innocence Project and the IIP, spent Tuesday and Wednesday on campus speaking to students and staff members.

“Talking to the students is always great,” said Gonzalez. “I feel like they’re the ones who will eventually take over and make the system work and be a benefit for everybody. It brings me to meet face-to-face with those who have helped me and those who are continuing to help me.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 2, 2019.

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