More than half of Hebron’s police officers will be laid off after the McHenry County town cut funding from the department. The police union said the move poses a safety risk to the public.
Hebron Village Trustee Mark Shepherd made a motion at the village’s January board meeting to decrease the Hebron Police Department’s budget by $100,000.
Trustees Mark Shepherd, Mark Mogan and Josh Stevens voted in favor of the motion while trustees Sandy Drevalas, Pat Peterson and Jim Lange voted against it.
Village President Robert Shelton broke the tie vote by voting in favor of the motion.
Shelton said the savings would be placed in a fund for future maintenance of streets and infrastructure.
Following the decision, layoff notices were sent to two full-time and four part-time police officers in the department.
The department will now be left with three officers and the police chief to patrol the village’s streets.
“With standard eight-hour work shifts, that means only one officer will be on duty at any given time, and overtime costs and burnout will come into play whenever an officer is sick or takes a day off,” the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (ILFOP) Labor Council said in a statement, adding that the move “poses a severe safety and liability risk for the village’s citizens.”
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, which represents the department’s full-time officers, said they are urging the village to return the $100,000 in funding.
“Sooner or later, a tragedy will occur when there just aren’t enough officers on Hebron’s streets to handle an emergency situation,” ILFOP Labor Council Executive Director Shawn Roselieb said.
“We urge the village to return this funding to the Hebron Police Department for the safety of citizens and police officers. If someone gets hurt or killed because there are not enough law enforcement officers in the city, Hebron taxpayers could be on the hook for any legal action resulting from the situation,” Roselieb said.
The budget move will also force the Hebron Police Department to cut the Too Good For Program at the elementary school.
The police union said they met on February 19 with Shelton and Mogan but could not convince them to refrain from laying off the police officers.
The ILFOP Labor Council said the labor agreement between the village and the union does not allow outside police officers to be called in to patrol Hebron until the village first offers to re-hire the officers it has laid off.
The ILFOP Labor Council said they have been urging the village to pursue funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help pay its police department.
“It’s simple math, if you subtract law enforcement then you add crime, but there is more at stake here than just dollars and cents,” Roselieb said.
“The bigger issue is the quality of life that the citizens of Hebron have come to expect, and an effective police department is a major factor in maintaining that good quality of life,” Roselieb said.