RAVENSWOOD - Ravenswood Police officers attended Ravenswood City Council's meeting Tuesday night in force to voice concerns over an agenda item that would require them to park cruisers at the station rather than taking them home as other police agencies do. Mayor Michael Ihle was absent from the proceedings as he was attending a municipal meeting. City Recorder Kathy Garrett officiated the meeting in his stead.
The subject that dominated the evening was under the "Business for Potential Approval" section of the agenda. Councilperson Sue Quillen's agenda item dealt with making officers leave cruisers at station when not on duty; instead of taking them home at night.
Councilman Gary Cross commented, "I just want to go on the record that I am not in favor of taking the police cars away. It's a safety issue. They really need to keep their cars and I also feel that each department should make the decision as to what needs cut or added."
Approximately seven law enforcement officers attended the meeting to voice their concerns on the issue.
During Chief Lance Morrison's report, he pointed out that his officers were there not because he asked them to attend, but because they wanted to be present at the proceedings.
Said Morrison, "They are upset obviously because of the item that is on the agenda, and some of their families are here because they are upset and concerned about the item that is on the agenda. Why would their families be upset? Because it is basically a safety issue."
Morrison provided an eight-year comprehensive study conducted in multiple agencies. The study involved pooled cruisers versus assigned vehicles.
Council members were also presented with a monetary breakdown of having officers take cruisers home vs. keeping them at the station at the end of each shift.
Ptl. Brandon Thompson expressed his views, "There is no price on safety and it only takes one time. A disturbance can be anything from a gun to a dog. You never know, but I don't want to have to go knock on Bobby's (Knox) door and tell his wife that he's dead because I had to turn around in my personal vehicle and then get my cruiser."
Sgt. Dave Prechtl recalled a situation where suspects was driving toward the direction of where he lived, and he had to use his own truck to pursue the suspects. When one suspect was caught, there was no place to put him to transport him back to the station. He added, "Public safety is something you never want to cut."
Ptl. Nathan Cummings asked council to decide what was more important, "pennies or lives."
Ptl. Bobby Knox asked council how much would they save by keeping the cruisers at the station. At the time of the meeting, no figures were available to give to the officers as Quillen stated that council was still looking into the matter.
Page 2 of 2 - Qullen stated that council was simply looking to see where the city could save money. She insisted that the police department was not the only agency that council was considering as far as making budget cuts. However, no other agency was listed on the agenda for potential cutbacks.