Macomb requests more police officers

Tom O'Neil

The Macomb Police Department is proposing a staff increase for the upcoming year and the next two years. According to Police Chief Steve Williams, the proposal calls for adding a community service officer, a secretary and two police officers for the upcoming year; an additional police officer will be added each year for the following two years. After that, Williams believes the department will be at a “reasonable strength.”Macomb ranks last in the state of Illinois for number of police officers per 1,000 citizens compared with other cities of similar size according to Williams. Macomb averages 1.2 officers per 1,000 people with the state average being 1.8 officers per 1,000 people.

Increased staffing calls for increased funding. According to an article in The Macomb Journal, City Administrator Bob Morris said that increasing taxes or making cuts in other areas of city spending would be the only ways to find more money. Morris also said increasing taxes is probably a last resort.

Williams said the increase in staffing would cost the city a total of $63,000 the first year. However, this is only a partial year, the first full year will cost the city $199,000.

“There are some generally accepted formulas that police departments have used for years in determining how many officers we should have,” Williams said. “However, these estimates are combined with other factors. Among these are the budget of the community, the credibility of the chief of police, the extent of non-police functions, the willingness of city officials to spend money on the department and the mission of the agency.”

The estimates and other factors “clearly show that we are understaffed,” according to Williams.

Macomb Mayor Tom Carper recommended to Morris that some ideas for funding be presented to the council, according to The Macomb Journal.

“In 1984 we had 24 officers and we handled 6,559 calls, we still have 24 officers and in 1996 we probably handled 13,000 calls,” Williams said.