Tax Group questions need for IL. State Police...


May 21, 2010
Greenville, IL

Tax group questions need for State Police

Comments 4 | Recommend 1

June 05, 2010 3:36 PM


The Telegraph

A taxpayer watchdog group studying proposed reductions in the Illinois State Police workforce has sparked a debate by suggesting the state would be better served by eliminating the agency altogether.

The Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation has been in a running battle with supporters of the State Police network after suggesting last month that the state could ease its financial crisis by giving over policing to local and county law enforcement. The foundation is the nonprofit, charitable arm of National Taxpayers United of Illinois.

"The top 100 ISP salaries averaged $142,000," group President Jim Tobin said. "This is outrageous because, with the possible exception of the state crime lab, virtually all of the State Police force is superfluous and can be done away with."

State Police Acting Director Jonathon Monken has said a reduction in the ISP workforce would mean "significant consequences to public safety."

"We expect an increase in traffic fatalities, increased exposure to terrorist threats in Illinois, an increase in gun and drug trafficking, in addition to the loss of an estimated $12 million in citation revenue for counties across the state," he told reporters recently.

Monken is working on a plan calling for the Illinois State Police to lay off 464 troopers and close five regional headquarters by this fall. One of those offices, District 18 in Litchfield, serves several counties in The Telegraph area.

This year's layoffs, coupled with retirements, will result in a 30 percent personnel reduction. That will reduce the number of troopers from 2,025 to about 1,400.

Tobin doesn't believe the reductions will jeopardize safety.

"Even if you agree that we need them, do we really need that many? I don't," Tobin said in a phone interview.

"Their primary function is to work the precincts," Tobin said, adding that the State Police write tickets just to support the local police forces. He said speed limits on highways should be raised and that writing tickets should not be the function of the ISP.

"They can pull the city cops out of the doughnut shops to write tickets," Tobin said. Seat belt and cell phone laws, he said, were implemented simply to "create jobs" for the state police.

Tobin rarely minces words and has gained notoriety for his blunt manner. For years, he's carried a banner on behalf of critics of government bureaucracy and largesse.

Capt. Scott Compton, the ISP's chief public information officer, said Tobin is overestimating the capabilities of local law enforcement in rural areas.

"The large majority of police agencies in Illinois are less than a dozen officers," Compton said. "Obviously the larger cities have more, but the smaller agencies don't have the resources available to investigate crashes and do the other things the State Police do. We do more than just write tickets."

Tobin said the state could save a bundle by only keeping the state crime lab.

"Eliminating the Illinois State Police is an example of how Illinois state expenditures can be cut by $300 million without reducing essential service," Tobin said.

He contends that 35 percent of ISP troopers had salaries in 2009 in excess of $100,000. Leading the way, the foundation says, were Lt. Carl Anderson at $189,015, Master Sgt. Manual Lebron at $184,863 and Sgt. Walter Valentine at $175,452. The tax group says 84 troopers made more than acting director Jonathon Monken, who draws a salary of $132,566.

At least some of those on the list produced by the tax group retired in 2009 and the figures include their end of career payouts, making Tobin's numbers skewed, Compton said.

"If you retire and you have accumulated vacation time and comp time, you get paid for that time," Compton said. "So some of those salaries include an accrued time payout. Some also include overtime. We do not have master sergeants regularly making $140,000 to $150,000 a year."

If the highest-paid officers would agree to pay cuts, could that save some jobs?

Compton said there are "ongoing conversations" about pay cuts, but no agreeable solution has been offered.

"Very few government employees are doing that in Illinois. When they refuse to take a pay cut, that means their comrades will be laid off," Tobin said. "If they all took pay cuts, they'd still be overpaid, but they could keep their jobs. But they won't do that, and that's the way it goes."

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget plan calls for State Police to lose $32 million in general revenue fund appropriations, to about $378 million.

Monken said the State Police will continue working hard to promote public safety.

"Needless to say, this is anything except the ideal situation," he said. "In my opinion, we're understaffed right now."

Tobin clearly disagrees with staffing contentions.

"Is there a need for 700 highly paid supervisors for 1,100 troopers?" Tobin asked. "Do these same troopers really need 56 captains making $133,000, 78 lieutenants with an average salary of $121,000, 295 master sergeants at $109,000 and 234 sergeants making $107,000 in order to do their job? I don't think so."

Comparatively, the average salary for a sergeant in the Missouri State Highway Patrol is $60,300.

Compton said the salaries for sworn officers, as well as civilian employees, are set by union contracts.

Compton added that while the unions set the salaries, the ISP still has to live within the budget given to them by the state.

"That means tightening our belts like everyone else has to when they're given a budget," said Compton, who said no layoffs have yet been made because the ISP has not been given a final budget.

"I can't believe they're paying them that kind of money," Tobin said of the ISP officers. "The salaries these guys get paid is ridiculous. There is no reason a cop should make more than $80,000 to $90,000 a year.

"Officers do die on the job, and so do the tax fighters. Look at the original tax fighters in the 1770s. They fought the federal government and many of them died doing so."

Tobin doesn't believe any government employees deserve pensions, instead calling for new hires to be placed into a 401k.

"Like most in the private sector, I don't receive a pension," said Tobin, whose salary ranges from $30,000 to $80,000 depending on much money comes in from donations. "I'm pretty much going to have to work until I drop dead. And government employees can't comprehend that."

I detect a troll (not the OP, the author of the article).
I dunno, from the numbers he gives, he makes a good point. 700 supervisors for 1100 patrol officers? That seems a little ridiculous...
mcpd2025 said:
I dunno, from the numbers he gives, he makes a good point. 700 supervisors for 1100 patrol officers? That seems a little ridiculous...

True, but to throw the idea around to get rid of the State Police because they cost too much? :?
Its Illinois, the cost of living is pretty low, when compared with DC, CA, or WA. I want to make big bucks, but Sgts making $107,000 is out of line for Illinois.
ParkPiggy said:
Its Illinois, the cost of living is pretty low, when compared with DC, CA, or WA. I want to make big bucks, but Sgts making $107,000 is out of line for Illinois.

What if they are assigned near the Chicagoland area? Taxes, home prices, insurance, .........

The cost of living may be low, but it is not that low.
I'm thinking if they need to cut costs, they could do away with a captain as PIO. Couldn't a lower rank, or maybe a civilian do the job??? OSP has a Sargent do the job...
Most of Illinois outside the state of Chicago is rural and municipal and county personnel have to cover large areas with limited personnel. ISP backs up those agencies quite often, not the reverse. The troopers are out there just as much as the the regular troopers are.

As for cost of living, it is a double edge sword. Once you get about 50-80 miles away from Chicago then it slowly drops off, but where I live, it is very expensive. My house, built in '53 ~1000 sqft, unfinished basement (almost sheet rocked), sitting on 3/4 acre, unincorperated (well and septic). Was valued at 256k before the market bust. I could get about 140 now if I'm lucky, my taxes are $4500 a year.

Factor all that in on a public servant salary and it is tight. Even more so when I had to go out on the injury and only have my state position as my single source of income. If I were to live where I store all our equipment (170 miles south) I could have a very nice 3-5000 sqft house on 5 acres for about about the same price.
Maybe the tax group is superfluous and can be done away with.

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