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South Beloit decision critical

Ryan Jacquemet/The Round Table

Ryan Jacquemet/The Round Table

By virtue of the fact that this article will appear in the Op-Ed portion of The Round Table, you know there will be a bias present in the piece. However, I am extremely biased regarding the situation with the South Beloit Police and especially the fire departments. I am currently a South Beloit Fire Department Recruit, meaning I have spent dozens of hours with the men and women at the department, getting to know them and their families and at, times, placing my safety in their hands. I bring this up to give you context and for you, the reader, to understand why I am so passionate about this issue.

I am going to start off with my views about the possibility of the police department dissolving and the Winnebago County Sheriff taking over. I do recognize that maintaining a police department is extremely expensive and I also realize that, financially, South Beloit is not the biggest or wealthiest city. However, I think that if the three conditions outlined by Mayor Ted Rehl are not met, then the outsourcing of police services to Winnebago County should not be approved for several obvious reasons. If the Sheriffs department did not patrol in South Beloit city limits regularly, it leaves the citizens without any immediate help. If there was an emergency and no patrol car was available in the area, it could take up to 15 minutes to respond, which, frankly, is ridiculous and irresponsible.

Also, in a time when the relationship between the police and communities is tense, the absence of police in an emergency situation could make relationships much worse.

In regards to the contracting out of fire and EMS in South Beloit, I have very mixed ideas. If having one of the neighboring city’s fire departments run South Beloit means that it will be cost effective, However, I would hate to see anyone at South Beloit Fire Department lose their job in the process.

No matter where I have talked to firefighters is that the vast majority of them love their job and would not trade it to do anything else. They really would like to give back to their community and offer the best services possible. Firing any more of the South Beloit staff could potentially damage their relationship with the city and other departments. Overall, it would be great if South Beloit Fire Department kept all of their current staff, but just run through a different department.

I genuinely hope that whatever route the city council and mayor’s office lean towards in regards to the emergency services in South Beloit, they make sure to take care of their citizens and the people who have been manning their fire engines and patrolling the streets. There is a lovely community built around and by the members of the police and fire departments and it would be a shame to see them dissolve as a result of government decisions.

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