Southern Ill. police chiefs react to new ISP incentive program

A new program designed by the Illinois State Police aims to hire more law enforcement officers.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - A new program designed by the Illinois State Police (ISP) aims to hire more law enforcement officers.

A couple southern Illinois police chiefs have mixed feelings about the program and how it might impact their departments.

“The state police is in the same boat the rest of us are. And honestly they’re just trying to do anything they can do to get themselves healthy and make themselves better,” Chief David Fitts said.

Marion Police Chief David Fitts said he understands why the ISP Lateral Entry Training program exists but he’s concerned he may lose officers.

“I know some other towns, they have had some officers apply and they’re probably going to lose some so it’s going to hurt southern Illinois for awhile,” Fitts said.

Fitts said he doesn’t believe any Marion officers applied yet, but it could happen.

One of the main draws of the incentive program is it allows current police officers to spend less time away from home.

Right now, the Marion Police Department is fully staffed and he says he’ll feel the impact if officers leave.

“We wouldn’t be able to be as proactive and some people may not like that but if we’re able to act on something that we see before it happens then we all feel it makes everybody safer,” he said.

Over at the Chester Police Department, Chief Bobby Helmers said he’s not worried he’ll lose his staff.

“We’ve never had any problems with retaining police officers. At this point I’m not concerned. We have a pretty good string of applicants should that happen,” Helmers said.

“At the end of the day, state, county, locals, we all work together so we will still provide every service that we possibly can and hopefully we’re not hurting in the meantime,” Fitts said.

According to ISP, Lateral Entry Training applicants must be a current certified police officer, have graduated from an accredited law enforcement academy and have at least two years of experience while employed as a full-time sworn police officer.

They say June 1 will be the last day to turn in all applications and required documentation to the ISP Merit Board in order to be considered for the October 2022 ISP Centennial Academy Cadet Class 138.

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