Central Illinois village disbands police department
The bill was passed in response to last spring’s civil unrest over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other people of color by police.
WASHBURN, Ill. (AP) — The central Illinois village of Washburn has disbanded its police department, with officials citing a lack of qualified part-time police help and a recently approved state crime-reform bill.
Village President Steve Forney says in addition to the difficulty in finding reliable part-time police help, complying with the reform bill would increase costs. That’s because of body-camera requirements, increased training and the liability issues the bill would prompt. The bill was passed in response to last spring’s civil unrest over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other people of color by police.
“We know that the costs of doing this service on our own for a small community will just increase,” he said. “The only thing we can do is pass that along in tax increases.”
Instead, a two-year deal between Washburn, a village of about 1,100 residents located 26 miles northeast of Peoria, and the sheriff’s office will be considered by the Woodford County Board. Washburn’s village board approved the deal Feb. 8.
Forney said the village had considered a sheriff’s-office patrol contract off and on for at least 30 years.
“The police reform bill probably was the nail for them to make this decision,” Woodford County Chief Deputy Dennis Tipsword said. “There are just a lot of unknowns in that, and for small towns that are already very limited in their budgets for police protection, it was just too much for them to handle.”
Washburn Police Chief John Scroggs was offered severance, Forney told The State Journal-Register in Springfield. Scroggs was the only officer the village was employing. He had help from two part-time officers, but they found other jobs recently.
Extra sheriff’s-office patrols in Washburn have been in place since last week, Tipsword said. Once the county board approves the contract, the sheriff’s office would establish a substation at the Washburn Village Hall.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.