FAIRBURY- The Fairbury Public Safety Committee voted 3-1 to investigate whether or not to contract Fairbury’s law enforcement with the Jefferson County Sheriff or to maintain the Police Department.
At the May 17 meeting, Councilman Ed Friesen opened the discussion by giving some of the history behind the debate and clarifying the purpose of the meeting, which he said was to investigate the possibility of contracting and to shut down rumors that Fairbury was in the process of eliminating the Police Department.
“This meeting is to authorize staff to look into the details of law enforcement contract and the cost of it,” he said. “Earlier this year, there was some interest expressed by the Sheriff’s Department in providing Fairbury with law enforcement services. No Contract has been presented by either the City or the County.”
Before discussions could go any further, Friesen said there would be many details, such as cost, equipment and length of the contract, to work out.
“The contracting discussion is not a done deal,” Friesen said.
Friesen went on to say that Fairbury is not contracting sanitation, street repair, water, sewer, or any other maintenance service.
Collin Bielser, city administrator, said that Jefferson County Sheriff Nels Sorensen was still interested in contracting with Fairbury, but agreed with Friesen that much research would need to be done before any decision could be made.
So far, there have been no formal meetings between Fairbury officials and the Sheriff’s Department to discuss this, though Bielser said he has met with Sorensen twice informally to discuss the topic.
Fairbury Police Officer Josh Jacobi, who attended the meeting, said police officers had been told by the Sheriff’s Department that the county would take over law enforcement in Fairbury.
Friesen said this was not the case and directed Jacobi to Sorensen for any questions over this.
“We still have a police department with a chief and we haven’t done anything to move away from that,” he said. “Any discussions the Sheriff had had, or anything else he said is entirely up to him.”
According to Friesen, the committee has discussed contracting the city’s law enforcement five times since 2004.
“So far, the contract has not been more advantageous cost-wise the times that we’ve looked,” Friesen said.