Metro-East village could disband police department over money issues

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by Ray Preston/ News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 26 at 4:41 PM

(KMOV.com) -- A Metro-East city with high crime statistics is considering disbanding their police department to help improve the safety of the community.

Washington Park Police Chief Aubrey Keller said the police department is understaffed and overwhelmed.

Residents said they see officers patrol the main roadways, but he rarely sees them in the neighborhoods.

Chief Keller said the ideal situation would be for the village to keep its own department, but they can’t afford it. Keller said the department has been without insurance for years.

“The village hasn’t bought the necessary insurance it requires. It’s been working without workers’ comp [compensation],” said Washington Park Attorney Eric Evans, “It’s been working without automotive coverage, which has led to a large number of lawsuits and complaints from the union.”

Washington Park said they are looking at several options that include contracting with a neighboring municipality, turning to the Illinois State Police or creating a “hybrid police department” combining Washington Park police with patrols from other departments.

Others said having the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department take over is the most logical choice.

Washington Park has a population of about 4500 people and covers an area about two and a half square miles.

The department said it would have to hire six deputies to patrol that would cost the village almost $600,000.
 

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