Homer officials weighing options after police chief’s retirement leaves department vacant

Chicago
By Chicago 2 Min Read

HOMER — The village of Homer’s police department no longer has a single person on staff, after its police chief retired earlier this month.

John Rouse had worked in the department for about 30 years before retiring Oct. 6, said village clerk Sharon Jeffers.

The village board considered options regarding the department during an Oct. 19 meeting, but no decisions were made. The board will have its next monthly meeting on Nov. 13.

“We’re just looking into all options,” village President Jim White said.

The village of approximately 1,000 people could follow in Savoy’s footsteps and contract with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

Savoy, which has a population of about 9,000, pays nearly $600,000 a year to contract three deputies from the county sheriff’s office to patrol within city limits, village President John Brown said.

On the flip side, the village of Mahomet, which is about the same size as Savoy but has a more populated surrounding area, pays over $2.2 million a year to fund its own police force of 11 officers, according to village President Patrick Brown, brother of John.

“Every community is different,” John Brown said. “Some communities like having their own police chief and having their own police department.”

Patrick Brown said police departments all over are having significant hiring issues, which could make it difficult for Homer to fill Rouse’s former position.

At the same time, Patrick Brown said he’s seen police call volumes increase since the beginning of the pandemic and anticipated Mahomet will have to hire more officers in the next few years.

“It’s gonna be difficult for anyone to transition to some other way, but it might be difficult for Homer to replace their officer or their chief,” he said. “So, they might have no choice but to try to contract out with the county on that.”

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