Over the last few years, the Carpentersville Police Department and Fire Department have successfully reduced crime and maintained high fire-safety ratings while at the same time decreasing the overall numbers of public-safety personnel, according to a village of Carpentersville news release.
Officials credit the success to maintaining the number of “boots on the streets” but cutting back on the number of administrative positions within both departments.
According to the release, the Carpentersville Police Department has about the same number of uniform police officers patrolling the streets of Carpentersville today as it did in 2008. Positions that were historically “specialized” or “administrative” have been shifted to uniform positions.
The department presently has 59 sworn officers, officials said.
“Over time, the Police Department has met our decrease in sworn officers by rearranging our staffing across the department, but prioritizing uniform patrol,” said Police Chief Michael J. Kilbourne. “I am confident that the Police Department has exactly the number of uniformed officers needed for a village of this size to ensure public safety not be compromised.”
Ten new police officers were hired between 2014 and 2016 to maintain staffing levels at 59 sworn officers.
Kilbourne said a continued emphasis on heightening patrols and engaging in larger-scale investigations has helped the department reduce the total crime index over the past 10 years. From 2005 to 2015, there was a 50 percent reduction in total index crimes, predominately due to a large-scale, multi-agency effort to eliminate high-level gang activity in the community.
“This alone proves that the loss of sworn officers over the past 10 years has not had a negative impact on our community,” Kilbourne said. “If anything, it shows that we are out patrolling the streets with a stronger force of dedicated police officers.”
Through the cooperative efforts between Village Manager Mark Rooney, the Board of Trustees, fire administration, and members of the full-time and part-time fire unions, enhanced staffing models have been developed to allow the Fire Department to provide high levels of public safety services, Fire Chief John-Paul Schilling said.
“In 2015, a new program was instituted to augment daily staffing levels by regularly scheduling three part-time firefighters working on each shift,” said Schilling, adding that the number of personnel working on each shift has remained steady at 12.
Like many other communities, Carpentersville is experiencing fluctuations in part-time fire personnel staffing. Officials said this week that the Fire Department will soon see an increase in part-time staffing, as the village plans to hire nine new part-time firefighters by early summer.
In an effort to provide consistent, high-quality emergency response, part-time firefighters are beginning to be hired and trained at the same level as full-time firefighters. Part-time firefighters are provided with the necessary training for both their firefighter and paramedic certifications. Regularly scheduled part-time firefighters work an equivalent amount of hours as the full-time firefighters each month, but at a significantly lower cost, the news release said.
Fire administration, in conjunction with the village manager and both fire unions, continue to research and evaluate innovative programs to ensure Carpentersville meets the community’s expectations.
“We are united in moving forward together,” Rooney said. “Together, along with the Service Employees International Union and the International Association of Fire Fighters, agree that this is the most effective method going forward to allow us to serve the community with quality public-safety personnel.”
The village has been working closely with the SEIU 73 (part-time fire union) local executive board and the SEIU regional representative, Gene Washington, in establishing a college internship program. The college internship program would benefit local aspiring firefighters attending a community college by allowing them to simultaneously gain valuable experience and receive the necessary training to become qualified firefighters.
Upon graduation from the program, an intern will walk away with a college degree, have firefighter and paramedic certifications and, at a minimum, a part-time job with the Carpentersville Fire Department, Schilling said.
“You cannot get your firefighter certification unless you are affiliated with a fire department,” he said. “This would make our program very unique, as most fire departments do not offer that opportunity.”
SOURCE: village of Carpentersville news release