DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)– The Decatur Police Department asked for about 15% of the city’s American Rescue Plan money at Monday night’s city council meeting.
The requested $2.5 million would help replace technology that is 10-15 years old, said Interim Police Chief Shane Brandel. The police chief listed out high-definition surveillance equipment and updated thermal imaging infrared cameras as items high on the list. Another, more basic need is additional storage for body camera footage, something that Brandel said cost the police department $80,000 in 2021.
The money would be spread out over 4-5 years, according to Chief Brandel. He and Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe hope this one-time request can bolster the police department’s efforts in curbing gun violence in Decatur.
Brandel said he would like to see another portion of the $2.5 million go toward an online crime reporting system and recruiting officers.
The police dept. is down 18 deployable officers, according to Brandel. 139 out of 148 positions are filled but nine of them are still in training, Brandel added. He said it’s affecting response times.
“If it’s not a higher priority call, you know, a call that might have waited 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the day of the week and time of day), might wait three to four to five hours,” Brandel explained.
“Or, we’re even in a position now where we’re not able to respond and we have to call them back and say, ‘Listen, we’re not going to be able to respond to this today. You’re going to need to call back tomorrow morning,’ or something to that effect.”
Brandel said an online reporting system would also help with the call volume.
Mayor Moore Wolfe said the city is supportive of the request. She said the city’s 2022 budget will be finalized on Nov. 17 and if it’s approved by the council, ARPA money should be available to the police dept. by the end of the year.
Decatur received $16.9 million in ARPA funds already. Moore Wolfe said another $16.9 million is expected in the spring.