Village Public Safety Services Superior Despite No Changes To Frontline Public Safety Personnel Numbers
MARCH 24, 2017
– Over the last few years, both the Carpentersville Police and Fire Departments have maintained more than adequate frontline public safety personnel coverage, greatly in part due to the reduction of administrative positions within both departments.
Despite a decrease in sworn officers throughout the years, the police department has substantially the same number of uniform police officers patrolling the streets of Carpentersville today as they did back in 2008. Positions that were historically “specialized” or “administrative” have been shifted to uniform positions out on the streets. There are currently 59 sworn officers.
“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.
Thanks to the continued emphasis on dedicating time and effort into reducing crime rates by heightening patrols and engaging in larger-scale investigations, there has been a reduction in total crime index over the past 10 years. In fact, from 2005 to 2015, there was approximately a 50% 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,” said Chief Kilbourne. “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 the highest levels of public safety services.
“In 2015, a new program was instituted to augment daily staffing levels by regularly scheduling three part-time firefighters working on each shift,” said Fire Chief John-Paul Schilling, adding that the number of personnel working on each shift has remained steady at 12.
Carpentersville is no different than many other communities in the United States that are experiencing fluctuations in part-time fire personnel staffing. However, our fire department will soon see an increase in part-time staffing, as the Village plans to hire a total of 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. Moreover, regularly scheduled part-time firefighters work an equivalent amount of hours as the full-time firefighters each month, but at a significantly lower cost.
Fire administration, in conjunction with the Village Manager and both fire unions, continue to research and evaluate innovative programs to ensure we meet the expectations of our community.
“We are united in moving forward together,” said Village Manager Mark Rooney. “Together, along with SEIU and the IAFF, agree that this is the most effective method going forward to allow us to serve the community with quality public safety personnel.”
One of the initiatives the Village has been working closely on with the SEIU 73 (part-time fire union) local executive board and their regional representative, Gene Washington, is 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, that intern will not only walk away with a college degree, but they will also have their firefighter and paramedic certifications, and at a minimum, a part-time job with the Carpentersville Fire Department.
“You cannot get your firefighter certification unless you are affiliated with a fire department,” Chief Schilling said. “This would make our program very unique, as most fire departments do not offer that opportunity.”