Think Our Police Are Safe From Allen/Olson Now? Don’t Count On It.

By Craig Casino

When Tim Allen ran for trustee in 2011, he didn’t bother mentioning to us what his plans were for our police department. We later learned that it was to eliminate and replace it with Sheriff deputies.

The plan was a boondoggle, as we all know, and went down in flaming defeat —thanks to Winfield United, The Winfield Register, Erik Spande, Dan Cronin, and 87% of the residents who voted it down last November.

But things haven’t changed that much. In the upcoming months, Tim Allen and Company are planning to radically downsize the Winfield PD. We know this because they now have a track record that we can review.

Last August, trustee Jim Hughes was involved in an effort to reduce our police department from 17 to approximately 12 sworn officers. Tony Reyes one-upped Mr. Hughes by proposing  a reduction of the police force to 8 officers. Reyes also mentioned denying our officers the necessary training and equipment. Ah yes, true leadership.

The problem is that these trustees have no understanding and no business considering any reduction at all without going through the proper vetting process.

Since August, they haven’t even discussed this issue with the Chief of Police Stacy Reever. Shouldn’t our chief of police, the person who would know firsthand what staffing levels are required to keep us safe, be the first person you would want to talk to before considering to downsize?

But this type of behavior is nothing new for Winfield’s current four-vote Board majority. As usual, facts and proper planning just don’t figure into their thinking.

 Lately, though, they’ve stopped talking about their plans for our PD. This shouldn’t surprise us. Why? Because we are now in the middle of election season. Mum’s the word.

These four trustees are afraid that their heads are on the chopping block due to their attempt to eliminate our PD last year.

If candidates Spande, Bajor, Mustes, and McCurdy are elected, then Mr. Allen and Mr. Reyes lose their four vote majority. And when that happens, their power finally comes to an end.

Think about it: what will happen to our PD if the wrong candidates —those aligned with Mr. Allen, Mr. Reyes and Mr. Hughes— win even one of the seats?

Should we expect candidates Hanlon, Blackburn, and Jacques to fall into line with Tim Allen & Company and gut our police department?

 When we see their political signs posted in the same yards along with Jay Olson’s, what other conclusion can we make?

 When we read the rants of Tom Blackburn on Winfield 411, the blog controlled by Tim Allen, what does that tell us?

 When we see the Hanlon-Olson-Jacques-Blackburn website showing solidarity with Tim Allen & Company, how else can we connect these dots?

And what about transparency? Long before Tim Allen was elected a village trustee, he had spoken of doing away with the Winfield Police Department, if he had a chance. He called it his “outsourcing baby.”

Why then didn’t he present it to the public as one of his campaign promises when he ran for trustee? Why didn’t he mention that this was a way to reduce village expenses?

Could it be that he knew that the residents would overwhelmingly say no? This, I believe, is why he kept his plan to eliminate our police hidden until after he was elected.

And, even after the election, Mr. Allen and the other three trustees kept their Outsourcing Plan a secret. In fact, they worked through its details in closed door meetings for eleven months. It was their intention to not go public until it had already become a done deal with the Sheriff’s Office.

Thankfully, it didn’t work out that way. Erik Spande and The Winfield Register blew the whistle and forced the whole thing public prematurely. And when it went public, the entire scheme blew up in Mr. Allen’s face —along with the faces of the other three trustees.

To this day, at each and every village board meeting, Mr. Reyes vents his bitterness at Mr. Spande for blowing their cover and disclosing their plan to the public before it became fait accompli.

I was a police officer for 14 years and currently have three family members who are police officers. I have experience as to what being short staffed, if only for a day, can mean for a police department. I can’t imagine running a police department like that on a full time basis.

Winfield’s PD is staffed at 17 sworn members which is already a reduction from past manpower. Three are on approved leaves for undetermined amounts of time, which means we are operating with 14 officers.

There are always expected and unexpected absences in a tough profession like police work. It has been said that downsizing the department any further could result in times where Winfield would have only one officer on duty. This greatly impacts both citizens’ and officers’ safety.

Does the Bloc of Four believe that we can count on nearby police departments for backup when these towns know they are being called to action because Winfield is short staffed due to their efforts to allegedly save money, while their towns are paying the full freight to man their own departments? How long might that back­ up take to arrive?

Another problem associated with downsizing is increased overtime costs and officer burnout from working too much overtime.

Any sensible person would understand why only one, and at times even only two officers, might be an unsafe situation for the officers and the public, but lately the word sensible doesn’t seem to be a word that we can attribute to Mr. Olson, Mr. Allen, Mr. Reyes or Mr. Hughes.

You don’t mess with critical manpower levels when it has to do with dangerous professions like police and fire, unless you are increasing your force. You don’t downsize it without first talking to the Chief of Police. Lives and safety are at stake. This is only common sense.

Winfield, unfortunately, has four trustees who over and over have proven they don’t want anyone’s advice. They think that they’re smarter than anyone else. Why listen to peons?

They are now in the process of trying to get rid of most of the resident volunteers who serve on Winfield’s commissions. Why? Because they don’t want to bother with opinions that differ from their own.

They have done their best to reduce citizens’ opportunity to speak at village board meetings. Why? So they can bypass due process and instill their will more quickly without having to face the input from residents.

The law of averages says that any village board our size might have one loose cannon on it. But we have four loose canons on our board. How did we get so unlucky?

Please exercise your right to vote for open and honest village government on Tuesday, April 9th.

About Positive on Winfield

Positive on Winfield is a blog with articles on local issues, local events, and local interests in Winfield, IL. Positive on Winfield is the blog website of the local civic action group, Winfield United for a Better Community.

View all posts by Positive on Winfield

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