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State Trooper Cuts Coming

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 24, 2010 5:40PM

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Next fiscal year could be tough on Illinois state police if Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget cuts pass. Quinn’s budget plan proposes cutbacks that could include laying off more than 400 state police and closing five district headquarters. The areas affected would be Carmi, Litchfield, Pecatonica, Macomb and Chicago. Local police departments in the area would be responsible for shoring up the resulting gaps in policing.

Lawmakers in Illinois aren’t taking the news lightly, as response time for calls on the highway could increase and many local police departments are already stretched very thin. At a hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) said “Your budget plan is scaring the heebie-geebies out of me.” Acting State Police director Jonathon Monken responded by saying “That makes two of us, sir.” Monken went on to highlight some of the increased risks the proposed cuts could pose to public safety, saying “we expect an increase in traffic fatalities, increased exposure to terrorist threats in Illinois, an increase in gun and drug trafficking…”

While some of Monken’s concerns seem a bit hyperbolic (For example, Illinois Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center has 10 officers currently, 5 would be cut under the plan), the effects of losing 400 state troopers could be devastating for local communities. The Chicago Police Department is currently 700 officers short of its authorized strength and would have to cover traffic enforcement on all major expressways in the area. In addition to the increased stress on local police departments, Monken also pointed out the state would lose about $12 million in ticket revenue.