On January 15, 13 St. Clair County Sheriff's deputies will get pink slips unless something changes. Monday, those deputies and supporters set up a picket line at the county courthouse.
The sheriff's dept says if it does indeed lose those 13 deputies, it won't have enough officers to repsond to property crimes. Meaning, if your home or car gets burglarized, you will be asked to fill out a form online and let the officers get to it when they can.
"I have dogs that help, but still, if I call 911, I want some response," St. Clair County resident Arlene Wilson said.
The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department is expecting an increase in crime.
"I'm on the chopping block. I already got my notice for January 15th," Patrick York, St. Clair County Sheriff's Deputy, said.
That's when a mere three deputies will patrol each shift and cover 700 square miles.
"People can do the math. It'll take a while before we can get there," Matt Jany, St. Clair County Sheriff's Investigator, said.
St. Clair also provides back-up for big crime in smaller municipalities, but that too is on the chopping block.
"That could be dangerous for myself, state police, especially the smaller agencies in St. Clair County," Jeff Mavrogeorge, New Baden patrolman, said.
Concerned citizens, fellow deputies and union supporters picked up protest signs in an effort to change the county's mind and save deputies' jobs. The message got through to one long-time board member.
"I think what you have to do is look at the whole budget.," Ed Cockrell, St. Clair County Board Member, said. "It's a public safety issue. When you're endangering public safety, there's got to be some movement somewhere."
The issue boils down like this: The deputies' pay has been frozen for two years. An arbitrator awarded them a 3 percent raise for the next two years. The county said O.K. but then moved to lay off 13 deputies. The county says the alternative is to accept a 1 percent raise and keep everyone employed.
"It's not in the budget, and unless property taxes rise significantly, it won't be," Mark Kern, St. Clair County Board Chairman, said.