Justice Dept suggests dissolving Metro East police departments

BROOKLYN, Ill. (KSDK) - It's time to dissolve four Metro East police departments. That's one of the suggestions from a new U.S. Justice Department study.

One of the three suggestions to improve crime rates dissolve four departments: Alorton, Brooklyn, Washington Park and East St. Louis and create one larger, more efficient department.

Not everybody thinks it's such a good idea.

Among the reasons for dissolving the four departments into one, the study found, was a widespread culture of corruption among police department staff.

What the study didn't talk about was the cost of doing something like this and the people we talked with Sunday say, it's just too expensive.

Right now the Brooklyn, Ill, police department has nine police officers, Chief Tony Tomlinson says that's about half of what he could use.

What his department and the other three examined in this report needs - is money.

He says with more money would get more officers on the streets, which would bring crime stats down.

"The numbers don't lie, there's just no doubt about that the numbers do not lie, we need some help," Chief Tomlinson said.

The four departments in the study are Brooklyn, Alorton, Washington Park and East St. Louis.

In that area, the average violent crime rate is more than nine times the rate for the State of Illinois. The homicide rate is more than 11 times the rate in the State of Illinois.

One suggestion from the study was to dissolve the four departments and form one big department.

"It sounds good, but I think that each municipality needs their own police department," Ronell Leggs said.

"I just don't think that the money is in this area I don't think that the money is in the state to be able to do that," the Chief said.

He says all four police chiefs agree they can't dissolve, but they can work together, which was another suggestion from the study.

"All the chiefs are on board that we have to come together and make this thing work," he said.

He says they can work together on investigations and sharing dispatch.

Residents seem to agree on coming together as long as it gets them more officers.

"If you could just combine the economy and then it makes it a better place," resident Arick Thatch said.

"We need a better police department we need more police a little more protection," Leggs said.

The Metro East Police District Commission called for this federal study to be done.

The commission has only been around since 2012 and already they've found money through grants for these departments.


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