Danville police take first step in 5-year plan to restructure the force

Local News

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA)– Big changes are in store at the Danville Police Department.

After a decade of envisioning the future, the first step was taken Wednesday with a promotion ceremony.

For the first time in more than 15 years, the department swore in deputy chiefs. Two commanders were promoted to the role. And, the commander position is gone, replaced by lieutenants.

Why?

“Our mission is to decrease the incidence of calls and increase the quality of life,” Chief Yates explained.

He said it’s part of restructuring how things run, adding, there really wasn’t much structure before this.

“Back in 2004, they went from a police department to Public Safety Department, which was broken down into two divisions: Police division and the fire division,” Yates shared. “The concept was sort of big back then, you know, where you save resources and combined resources.”

“There were a lot of unknowns and unfortunately, we were…” he paused. “It was difficult.”

These days, Danville’s police and fire departments stand alone, but beyond that, Yates said structure and clear ranks were never re-established.

Eric Kizer was promoted to lieutenant from sergeant. He’s a 20-year veteran of the department.

“I’ll be the first person to answer to,” he said of his new role.

He got emotional following his promotion.

“I did several different jobs, but always came back to being a police officer.”

Lt. Kizer said he thought he’d be retiring.

“My mom’s the first person to tell me, ‘If someone tells you you can’t do it, prove them wrong,’ and this opportunity is a big deal to me because it means I proved some people wrong,” he shared.

“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Yates said of the restructuring effort.

The department has now created three, clear divisions: Patrol and investigations. The two newly promoted deputy chiefs each head up one. The third, administration, will be run by a civilian.

“Fewer things are missed,” Yates said.

The above ordinance allowed for the restructuring of the Danville Police Dept. It was approved by city council and signed by Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. on Oct. 5.

So, why should it matter to you? Yates says it’s a matter of transparency.

“We want people to know what are we doing. What’s our mission? What are we moving towards?” he added. “But also, I like them to know how the department operates because if they have a question, they know who to go to.”

It won’t change the number of staff members currently on the payroll, according to Yates.

“But what it does is it creates a system and a structure that will support additional officers on the department,” he added.

And that’s the next step: Hiring more officers. Chief Yates says two officer positions are vacant and he’s hiring three more in December.

Everything, so far, was done with a restructuring of the existing budget. No additional money was requested from Danville City Council, according to the chief of police.

The restructuring of ranks was just the first step in a five-year plan. It’s a plan that’s still in the works.

Yates hopes to build stronger relationships with the community. He said the goal is to pull businesses, educators and human resources together to work on reducing crime.

The plan is to also build up human resources within the police department so officers can get help when they’re ready to retire, or even change career paths.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.