Metro East officials concerned about Illinois State Police consolidation
Apr 12, 2012 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
COLLINSVILLE -- Metro East law enforcement officials say they are opposed to a budget proposal that would eliminate an Illinois State Police communications center in Collinsville.
About two dozen law enforcement officials appeared at a news conference held Thursday afternoon to announce opposition to the proposed consolidation.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would close 16 of 20 State Police communications centers, including the one in Collinsville, and eliminate about 40 jobs statewide. All calls would be handled by the four remaining centers in DuQuoin, Springfield, Sterling and Des Plaines.
Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said the Metro East is the state's second-largest population center, with a population of more than 500,000, and routing calls to a communications center in Springfield would be "a move in the wrong direction."
The District 11 communications center in Collinsville handles State Police communications for Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties. Dispatchers there are more familiar with area roads and landmarks than ones in Springfield would be, said the local officials.
Gibbons said the local officials understand the need to cut spending and do not oppose consolidation in principle but said it should not be done at the expense of public safety or officer safety.
But Illinois State Police officials say the plan will not endanger public safety. They said technology advancements will actually improve safety under the consolidation plan.
"More than ever, law enforcement agencies across the country are being challenged to do more with less and must also consider the safety of their officers and the citizens they serve," Hiram Grau, director of the Illinois State Police, said in a statement. "This plan will add greater technology and efficiency to our overall public safety mission by providing real time information to dispatch operations."
The statement stressed that State Police communications centers and local 911 emergency operations centers are separate and that the proposed changes would have no impact on dispatching of local agencies' emergency responders.
State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, said in a statement issued Thursday that he thinks the State Police should consolidate communications in two "mega-communications centers," one in Collinsville and one in Chicago. He said some other states have only two centers.
"This plan saves more taxpayer money while providing public safety to Illinois residents and will keep the Collinsville communications center open," Kay said.
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