Are more cops needed?

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Ask any Tri-County Area police chief if he needs more manpower and the answer would likely be, “Yes.” Ask them if they know how to pay for them without raising taxes and the answer would be, “No.”

Just moments after Dick Ganschow became the East Peoria police chief, he was confronted by a challenge that is not going to go away soon. Belinda Young stood before the city council expressing her assessment of the police department’s use of manpower and lack of it.

Thin police ranks is an issue in Morton, Washington and Metamora, as well.

Washington Police Chief Jim Kuchenbecker said filling police officer slots is not cheap. Kuchenbecker said it costs about $85,000 to put an officer on the street the first year. East Peoria Deputy Police Chief Shannon Swearingen put the cost at about $100,000 to put a new officer on the street in East Peoria.

Morton Police Chief Craig Hilliard said he can relate with Ganschow’s situation. Morton is allotted 22 officers. Currently the department has 20.

“I could use a few more officers. It’s tough not to have enough officers, but you have to look at salary and benefit costs,” Hilliard said. “It’s never ending working on staffing. Things being what they are and budgets being what they are it’s a balancing act.”

Young said she would support higher taxes to pay for more police on the streets of East Peoria.

“I think we have to raise taxes for everyone’s welfare,” Young said. “Of course that will put me in the minority. This is putting our lives and police officer’s lives at risk.”

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