Mount Prospect discussing plan to hire more police officers
To meet the demands of its growing population, Mount Prospect is discussing plans to beef up a police force still operating at levels from more than a decade ago.
Village board members are considering a proposal that would add a community relations officer and two other officers to the police department, at a cost of more than $500,000, which includes salary, benefits, pension contributions and health insurance.
The community relations officer would handle social media management, community outreach programs, community policing and the Citizens Police Academy, as well as be present at village-sponsored events. The total cost of the post in the first year would be $176,831, officials said.
The first-year cost of adding the other two additional sworn officers is $354,000.
Village Finance Director Amit Thakkar said the new officers could save the department $60,000 to $75,000 in overtime costs.
The village will seek a Community Oriented Policing Services grant through the U.S. Department of Justice that would provide $125,000 per officer over a period of three years.
Thakkar said the size of the village's police force has shrunk since cuts made during the Great Recession. In 2006, the village had 92 sworn police officers. That figure stands at 83 today. Mount Prospect has 1.46 officers per 1,000 residents, which is fewer than many comparable communities.
Village trustees so far have expressed support for the proposal.
"I don't think that there's any question that we need more police officers," Trustee Richard Rogers said.
Trustee John Matuszak asked how the responsibilities of the community relations officer would differ from those of Officer Greg Sill, the department's public information officer.
Chief Mike Eterno said the department sees the new community relations officer position as a parallel role. Among the officer's duties would be reviving a police explorer post to mentor youth in the community who might have an interest in law enforcement.
Patrol officers will remain the bread and butter of the force, Eterno added.
"We don't have as many detectives as we used to have in years past. We don't have a traffic unit, as we have in the past," he said. "Unfortunately, the officers are juggling a lot of hats out there right now."