Letter: Union warns Kane County citizens of the impact of Sheriff’s Deputy staffing cuts

By on July 23, 2009

The Kane County Board is scheduled to permanently jeopardize the Sheriff’s Office’s ability to provide sufficient police services to the citizens of Kane County, especially those living in unincorporated areas, by reducing the number of sworn deputies that provide essential and required police services.

The Sheriff’s Office current staffing level set by the County Board is 96 sworn deputies to carry out the law enforcement and other legal requirements of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office has been operating well below that number for several months to meet budget restrictions imposed by the County Board and compounded by an increase in deputies out of service due to injuries. The County Board’s desire to further cut Sheriff’s Deputy staffing doesn’t take these issues into consideration. Staffing studies have shown consistently that the Sheriff’s staffing level should be 112 sworn deputies, 25 short of what the County Board is proposing to cut.

The voluntary reduction in staff by the Sheriff from 96 to 90 deputies has placed a significant burden on the deputies policing this county by reducing the number of deputies patrolling and responding to calls for service, increasing response times to calls for service and causing deputies to have to travel farther and faster to get to emergency calls at an increased risk to themselves and others on the roadways.

The citizens of Kane County, especially those in unincorporated areas who rely upon the Sheriff’s Office for their primary police service, are paying more in taxes and getting less service in return. Sadly, the County Board may also be placing citizen’s lives at risk by reducing the number of available deputies to respond to emergency calls for help.

The Policeman’s Benevolent Labor Committee—Kane County Sheriff’s Office (PBLC KCSO) recognizes the seriousness of the economic times and has been enduring the reduction of staff to 90 which has been difficult at best.

The Sheriff’s Office is currently awaiting the results of a federal grant for the retention and hiring of up to eight deputies. Recipients of that grant are expected to be notified in September of this year. An award of any number of additional deputies would provide much needed relief to the staffing and budget issues for the Sheriff’s law enforcement.

In the event that the County Board continues its plan to reduce the number of sworn deputies to a maximum of 87 from 96, and the Sheriff’s Office receives the federal grant for eight deputies, then it appears that it is the County Board’s intention to take the federal money for retaining and hiring new officers but to do neither? This would not be the intention of the federal government and would not be ethical and certainly not responsible to the citizens of Kane County.

The County Board’s insistence to exacerbate the problems at the Sheriff’s Office by further reducing the Sheriff’s sworn staffing is essentially a layoff of police officers. If we are in financial dire straits in this county, then we must examine the fiscal actions of this County Board and their failure to act in a timely and responsible manner to a crisis that they admittedly had early warning signs of.

The PBLC has made recommendations to the Sheriff and Board members on ways to save county dollars and not jeopardizing public safety. The Sheriff has proposed other funding sources and cost-cutting measures to the County Board in lieu of layoffs but the County Board has not acted upon the recommendations. The PBLC KCSO questions why it is only Kane County of all the other metropolitan counties that is in such a position that they would entertain reducing police officers, instead of other available budget cuts, program changes and potential revenue sources such as the RTA sales tax allocation that could support Sheriff’s operations and staffing rather than hindering them.

The PBLC KCSO warns the County Board, and all of the citizens of Kane County, especially the 70,000 or more people living in unincorporated areas, that the Sheriff’s Office cannot sufficiently provide police services with a staffing level of 25 deputies less than it should have. We implore the citizens of Kane County to contact their County Board members and demand that alternatives to jeopardizing public safety be acted upon.

Dennis Carroll
PBLC KCSO Union President