MINONK – The town board approved a four-year contract with the Woodford County Sheriff's Office to patrol the village at a special meeting held June 25. That means the local department no longer exists.
A four-person county force, which includes two current Minonk officers, will be based in the community of about 2,000 residents.
According to Administrator Bill Moline, such a move had been discussed by local officials for years. Recent developments exacerbated existing police problems.
"Really, it all boils down to having a reliable department that we can count on 24-7 and not have open shifts," he said.
The lack of staff in town has required reliance at times on deputies from the Sheriff's office, which is based 25 miles away in the county seat of Eureka.
"I think that the misnomer was that we were going to respond from Eureka. Absolutely not," commented Woodford County Sheriff Matt Smith about the new deal. "We're going to have 24-hour coverage in town."
Minonk-assigned deputies are to work from the current police office. When deputies there are not available to work, others are to take their places.
"If somebody goes on vacation, they have somebody that fills a slot," Moline said. "If they have somebody who gets injured, they have somebody who fills a slot.
"We did not have that. We cannot maintain that. We cannot financially support that long term."
According to Smith, Germantown Hills and Roanoke also contract with the Sheriff's office for police coverage. Patrols there are not as constant as they are to be in Minonk.
He added for the first year of coverage, the town is to pay the county about $349,000. That cost is to increase 1.4 percent each year of the contract. Smith indicated t's designed to be a break-even proposition for the county.