Quincy Herald Whig
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Cuts to Illinois State Police Budget Could Be Deep
Published: 3/20/2010 | Updated: 3/20/2010
By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Jonathon Monken, acting director of the Illinois State Police, told legislators last week that the proposed $58.1 million in cuts outlined in Gov. Pat Quinn's budget would eliminate hundreds of troopers and cripple the agency.
"That really totals 30 percent of our staff" who could be lost under the proposed budget, Monken said, a significant decline in the number of troopers patrolling highways and those helping with drug interdiction and other vital services.
Capt. Scott Compton, public information chief for the Illinois State Police, said the loss would be 464 sworn officers on top of 100 officers retiring by the end of June and the loss of 30 officers to the Illinois Gaming Board for work at the state's 10th casino and on video poker.
Compton said the move would cut the number of sworn officers to 1,430 from 2,205.
Quinn's budget office also plans to close at least three of the 22 ISP district headquarters, and perhaps up to five.
That has residents of Pittsfield concerned about what might happen if ISP District 20 headquarters there is among the closures.
"It would be pretty devastating," Pittsfield Mayor John Hayden said.
The Pikeland School Board last week did not renew the contracts of eight certified staff members at the elementary level, seven non-certified staff and five transportation workers responsible for noon pre-kindergarten bus routes because of the state's inability to keep up on its bills.
District 20 has 26 sworn officers and 12 non-sworn staff members -- six doing telecommunications work, three administrative personnel, one truck weight inspector, one communications technician and one maintenance worker.
But not all of the 26 troopers are in patrol cars. Only 13 to 15 troopers are on patrol during a typical shift, with the remainder doing administrative work.
District 20 headquarters also has an operational budget of $239,088. Personnel costs were not immediately available, but Compton said the statewide average for trooper's salaries and benefit packages is $86,000. The average trooper has 12 years on the job, he said.
All troopers working at the Pittsfield office are thought to have pay/benefit packages that amount to $2.2 million per year.
Bill McCartney, Pittsfield's economic development director, said it would be "a terrible economic loss" to the city if the ISP headquarters closed.
"There are several of them that live here and others out in the district, but I know they do some of their shopping here," McCartney said.
Pittsfield would not be the only entity losing money. The governor's budget documents include an estimate that the state could lose as much as $12 million in revenue from citations that will not be issued if that many troopers are taken off state highways.
Monken, Compton and other officials say it is premature to debate headquarters closings. No decisions have been made about closures and the Legislature has not weighed in on the proposed budget yet.
Monken said district headquarters targeted for closure would fall into one of two categories. In areas of higher population, some headquarters might be closed in areas where other law enforcement agencies would be able to pick up the slack. In lower population areas, the ISP would be looking for low crime rates to determine which sites to close.
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