FAIRBURY – Contracting out law enforcement services to Jefferson County has been discussed in some form for over 30 years, and has been considered at least five times since 2006.
The consideration has perhaps never been stronger.
In January, the City of Fairbury approached Jefferson County with a law enforcement contract proposal which would supposedly:
- Ensure the same level, or more coverage, for Fairbury with six, 24/7 dedicated officers to the city. Also with a sheriff-appointed liason to the city.
- Achieve cost savings for Fairbury citizens and cost neutrality for Jefferson County citizens.
- Save Jefferson County law enforcement $144,000 a year ($1.4 million for the 10-year deal).
Fairbury residents, though, are skeptical to lose their city’s police department altogether.
Those skeptical residents converged on the Fairbury City Offices Tuesday night for a special meeting of the city council to discuss the law enforcement contract that would dissolve the Fairbury Police Department into the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office.
Jefferson County resident Lurri Shoenrock’s son, Cruz, is one of three Fairbury police officers left in the department.
Fairbury Police Chief Chad Sprunk announced Aug. 15 that he intends to resign on Sept. 15.
While all Fairbury officers have been guaranteed jobs in the proposed contract, there are other concerns.
“It’s about protecting the community and protecting the officers,” Shoenrock said. “The sheriff’s department is helping cover the police department, and now we’re getting fatigued officers, which I know they’re trained to do this, but accidents do happen.”
Jefferson County Sheriff Nels Sorensen points to better communication, along with cost neutrality, as benefits of consolidating law enforcement. Now, he just wants a decision.
“When everybody works hard and they get tired, that’s when things start going downhill and people burn out,” Sorensen said. “If we’re going to (sign the contract), it needs to happen.”
Tuesday’s meeting ended without a decision. The city council voted unanimously to adjourn and continue discussion on the contract during their next meeting in September.
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