Possible change in training funding concerns local police
June 9, 2012 9:16PM
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:23AM
Police fear the state’s proposed solution to a budget issue will hurt local departments on many levels.
State troopers, their vehicles, the crime lab are not free. They take up a part of the state budget as does the cost of training the troopers to use their vehicles and the crime lab.
Municipal, sheriff’s and other police cost money as well. And while some of that comes from our tax dollars, a lot of training is funded by Traffic and Criminal Convictions Surcharge Funds. In essence, part of a violator’s ticket cost pays for the officers of that community to train.
The Tri-River Police Training Region covers Will, Grundy and Kankakee counties and holds training sessions for everything from how to give a Breathalyzer test to leading a homicide investigation.
“When a cop is hired by a department, they’re sent to the academy, but then they go back to get trained through the department and that’s where we come in,” Tri-River Director Richard Fonck said.
Since having the Breathalyzer instructor teach two officers in Frankfort and one in Coal City the next before heading downstate for the next few months isn’t cost-effective, Tri-River arranges classes for everyone to attend.
Smaller deparmtents aren’t the only ones to see an economic benefit training together. The Joliet police and Will County Sheriff use Tri-River for most of their training.
“These aren’t just electives, this is essential training, especially because laws change constantly,” Joliet Chief Mike Trafton said. “To lose that would be devastating.”
But since Springfield doesn’t have to cover training local police directly, House Bill 6122 was proposed. Instead of going for local law enforcement training, the funds would cover part of the state police budget beginning July 1.
While Fonck and Trafton stressed supporting the state police is important, there’s disappointment politics may hurt the 43 local departments in Tri-River. State police already receive $5 million from the Traffic and Conviction Fund, but would now get another $6 million from it.
Cutting 65 percent of the total funding for the 16 different training regions would essentially finish most of them, including Tri-River.
“There is a grant but the rest of our budget is dues the member departments pay to get in (the classes),” Fonck said. “If we raise dues to cover the difference, they’d have to choose the costs back on them.”
HB 6122 has been assigned to the Appropriations committee, but no action has been taken for several months.
Local cops hope that’s where it stays.