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Illinois Law Enforcement Jobs To Be Eliminated Under New Budget

Posted on March 16, 2010

Under a new proposed budget, hundreds of Illinois law enforcement jobs could be eliminated within the next year.

According to KMOX.com, hundreds of state troopers would lose their jobs under the proposed budget for Illinois’ new fiscal year, which begins in July.

Jonathon Monken, acting director of the state police, told an Illinois House appropriations committee Monday he cannot achieve a 14 percent budget cut through attrition alone.

Monken says the sworn troopers now number 2,025, and will be around 1,450 under the new budget. He says his agency will have to sacrifice many proactive services, especially where local police have a strong presence.

He says he will have to consolidate the current 21 districts into no more than 18.

Is the administration really planning to enact these cuts, or is this just a scare tactic? “I can’t really make the judgment on what the purposes are,” Monken told reporters after his presentation.

“What I have to do is make the terrible choice of trying to figure out where those cuts would have to come and how we can still function as an agency.”

Governor Pat Quinn’s budget include a cut of about 14-percent to the agency. That would trim the 31-hundred member force to under 27-hundred.

Both Republican and Democratic Lawmakers have spoken out against the plan, saying public safety should be among the state’s top priorities.

The cuts would force troopers to cover larger areas of the state. Governor Quinn’s cuts are an attempt to bridge part of a 13-billion dollar budget deficit. Quinn did propose a one-percent income tax increase to raise revenue, but proceeds from that would be earmarked for education.

But it’s not just men and women. Monken said he expects to have to trim local district offices. The acting boss said he’s hoping to have to close or consolidate only a few, though that’s just a hope.

“I know the number put out by the governor’s office of management and budget was three districts. That is probably a minimum number that would be required because of these cuts. In all likelihood it will be more, probably in the neighborhood of five. But it all depends on which districts.”

Monken had said he’d look to target districts in low crime areas, or areas of the state with plenty of local police backup. But he would not offer any specifics on which of the state’s 22 Illinois State Police Districts may be closed or combined.

Lawmakers in Springfield say they now worry their State Police district back home may be on that list.

Almost every lawmaker said the plan to balance Illinois’ budget on the backs of the State Police is a bad idea.

State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said now is not the time to take police officers off of the street.

“When you put people out of work, what are you going to have? You’re going to have more crime…and that’s where we’re going to need the State Police. I got a county jail at home and they;re saying “Gary the jail is full…When you put people out of work they start breaking-in, drugs start coming-in, that’s when you really need the State Police.”

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said it’s not a matter of need, but a matter of priorities in the Quinn administration.

“At a time when we are expanding Medicaid again, we’re not reforming pensions, we’re talking about cutting public safety dramatically. That is really irresponsible. And [shows] that we have priorities that are totally mixed-up in this state.”

State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, said he doesn’t want to sacrifice public safety.

“We’re looking at a $13 billion deficit, It’s pretty clear that if we’re not going to have any revenue in this state, the cuts are going to have to be made everywhere throughout state government. I just hope that at the end of the day, we can find the revenue to properly fund public safety, so we’re not just reacting to problems, we’re actually preventing problems.”

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