Keeping Small Towns Safe

Keeping Small Towns Safe
By: Holly Brantley

MOUNDS, Ill. - Mayor Waymon Butler said crime in Mounds is on the decline. So, why do residents feel like the problem isn't going away?
Heartland News spent the afternoon with Police Chief Harold Richardson to discuss the issue.
Richardson said Mounds faces the same issues as any small town. The chief and six officers work to keep the peace in the town of 1100.  It's a job they don't do for the money.
"There's a crime rate in Mounds just like any other city and it's falling," said Chief Richardson.
Officers note the biggest drop in violent crimes.
"The last shooting I can recall was a year ago Christmas," said Richardson.
"It's been a while since we had anything serious." said Officer Robert Riddle.
But, Chief Richardson said the crimes that do happen can hit just as hard. "Burglary or something like that hits home so people feel more affected by it," he said. 
According to Richardson, living in an area with limited resources and limited funds is the biggest obstacle for many departments in the area.  So, they depend on each other for support.  Meanwhile, three officers have been added to the force in Richardson's time as Chief.
"We have applied for grants. My squad car was acquired through a grant at no cost to the city so that helps," said Richardson.
Grants also provide training and better pay.  To protect and serve is a vow officers don't take for the money.  Many part-time officers in the Heartland make between $8.00 and $10.00 an hour.
Pay for officers in Mounds went up over the past few years.
"We don't make a lot of money in this job," said Officer Riddle. "You do it to help people."
Officer Riddle is studying to take a test required by the Police Academy in the State of Illinois.  Riddle plans to stay with the Mounds Police Department for a while.  
It's the kind of dedication Richardson feels Mounds needs to keep moving in the right direction.
"The officers I do have are dedicated to this town and to this department and they want to be with this city," said Richardson.
People in Mounds say, despite the crime rate, they feel police officers are doing a good job.  Chief Richardson said he hopes citizens in Mounds won't be afraid to get involved when they see a crime happen.