ATWOOD, Ill. (WCIA) — A woman’s teenage son was badly beaten and taken to the hospital. She says what is equally upsetting is how long it took law enforcement to respond to the scene.
Karen Eveland says they waited about 45 minutes for a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy to come so they could make a report. She says she’s confused and frustrated by how long it took them to respond. “By the time I got there, he was gashed open and I called 911 to get somebody to come help” says Eveland.
The 16-year-old boy was beaten by other teenagers at a house on North Iowa Street. Eveland says the assault was traumatic, but so was what happened right after she called 911. “Any parent shouldn’t have to wait that long if you call for an emergency.”
Paramedics showed up in about ten minutes and took him to the hospital. But she says a sheriff’s deputy didn’t show up until about 45 minutes later. She was told Atwood Police were not on duty on the weekend, so other sheriff agencies are dispatched to respond. Eveland says, “Their excuse is that there are only a few officers on duty so they have to wait until one becomes available for them to send somebody else out. We’re in a small town so on weekends we either have to depend on them sending someone from Douglas County or Piatt County in Monticello. I understand it takes a little time to get here, but not that long.”
Eveland isn’t the only one frustrated by this experience. Mike Cassella says, “It’s just concerning, as a tax payer, what if it was an emergency like a life or death situation? I just believe we need better protection.”
With 23-stitches on his head, the boy will be ok. While Eveland says she’s grateful it wasn’t worse, she doesn’t want her experience with the wait time for law enforcement to happen to others. “I just don’t think it’s something we should have to worry about, especially with our children.”
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said, “On this particular date and time, 2 Douglas County Deputies were utilizing benefit time leaving 1 Deputy on-duty for the entire county until 6:00 p.m.”
They also supplied a timeline of their involvement in the incident. They stated the following information was gathered from their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, 911 recording system, radio logs and squad car GPS data:
- 2:55 p.m. – Douglas County Deputy arrives on scene in the City of Newman to assist the Newman Police Department with a situation that resulted in someone being arrested.
- 4:02 p.m. – Douglas County Deputy clears the call in Newman and returns to routine patrol.
- 4:14 p.m. – The deputy conducts a traffic stop at 1400 N. County Road 2530 E, approximately 30.7 miles from the pending call in Atwood.
- 4:20 p.m. – Piatt County Sheriff’s Office pages the Atwood Fire Department First Responders to an address in Atwood for a battery between two individuals.
- 4:21 p.m. – Douglas County Dispatcher attempts to call Piatt County Sheriff’s Office to find out information regarding the page but receives no response.
- 4:21 p.m. – Douglas County Dispatcher contacts Piatt County Sheriff’s Office via radio and inquires: “Do you have an Atwood Officer on responding to this call or is this something we need to respond to?” Piatt County Responds: “I have dispatched a Piatt Co. Deputy.”
- 4:22 p.m. – Douglas County Deputy completes traffic stop.
- 4:23 p.m. – Piatt County Sheriff’s Office advised Atwood Fire Department the assailant is no longer on scene.
- 4:35 p.m. – Piatt County Sheriff’s Office contacts Douglas County Sheriff’s Office via telephone and advises a suspect in the batter is believed to reside in Douglas County and requests a Deputy check the address. Douglas County Deputy goes en route to check the residence from 2050 E. U.S. Route 36, approximately 20.5 miles from the incident location.
- 4:41 p.m. – Douglas County 911 receives a 911 call from a male inquiring where an officer is. Call was informed we did not receive the original 911 call and transfers caller to originating agency, the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office.
- 4:46 p.m. – Atwood Fire Department advised the incident took place in Douglas County and requests a Deputy respond, Atwood Fire was advised we already have a Deputy en route.
- 4:53 p.m. – Douglas County Deputy arrives in the area of the incident.
- 4:54 p.m. – Douglas County Deputy arrives on scene.
Additionally, the sheriff’s office said based on this information, the on-duty deputy was 20.7 miles away from the scene being they were requested to respond. They said the deputy drove that distance in 19 minutes. “Based on the totality of the information available, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded appropriately based on the information they had at the time and found the response time would be within reason.”
The Atwood Police Department said they currently have one full-time officer and “a small number of part-time officers to cover the village.” Atwood Police Chief Rob Bross said he switches his schedule to try to cover as many hours as he can. He said it is also difficult to schedule some part-time officers because of their other schedules.
“The Atwood Police Department tries to respond to all calls within the village but do request assistance from time to time, just as we assist other agencies. When an Atwood officer is not on duty or available to respond, a county deputy is dispatched.”
Bross stated they are looking to hire a second full-time officer. “In the past hiring cycle, we had only two applicants and they were not chosen to continue to the next step of the hiring process. Several agencies have recently seen a decrease in quality applicant.”