Colchester residents speak out over future of police dept.

CORRECTION: Our report noted that alderman Eddy said a deputy was assigned after the former chief resigned, but only negotiations were taking place to potentially assign a deputy, however those talks were stopped by the sheriff.

COLCHESTER, Ill. (NEWS3) — The future of the Colchester Police Department is uncertain after the resignation of its former police chief.

It’s up to the Colchester City Council if they want to keep a local police force.

The issue has left residents concerned about safety in the community and voicing their thoughts to city officials. 

“I believe we should keep a local police department,” resident Timothy Royer said.

“I feel like we need to get a new chief appointed as soon as possible,” third ward alderman Mike Eddy said.

Since the end of August, the Colchester Police Department has been without a police chief, leaving city officials scrambling about what to do.

“Just because we don’t have a chief doesn’t mean we look at disbanding it,” Eddy said.

Eddy said if the city council decided to keep the Colchester Police Department, a new chief would need to be hired, but if aldermen vote to disband the department, city leaders would have to create a contract with the McDonough County Sheriff’s Office. 

“They need to listen to the public,” Eddy said. “They need to listen to the voters.”

Eddy said during the daytime hours, Colchester police cars sit parked not on patrol. He said the only time the cruisers come out is in the evening and overnight when officers are on duty. 

“When the schools are filling up and when the schools are empty, let’s get cops out there,” Royer said.

“We need to really have more coverage,” resident Kaye Mowen said.

Eddy said the department currently has five part-time police officers who patrol at night. He said after the chief resigned, a sheriff’s deputy was assigned to the area but that decision changed when Sheriff Nick Petitgout pulled the contract with Colchester.

Residents want something done quick to feel safe at all times.

“This is not something I want to be reactive to, if some kid got hit or killed, then we decide we should be put a police officer there, that should have been there from the get-go,”  Royer said.

The sense of urgency has been apparent with officials during the last month as council members were assigned roles to take on related to how to move forward with police in Colchester. 

NEWS3 has tried asking questions to the police committee chairman Kevin Bloomfield but he’s not been willing to talk much about the issue. 

“Things have been very difficult and we’re trying to get over that,” Bloomfield said.

Residents said transparency from officials has improved and they hope city leaders will put the safety of the community first.

“I think they just all need to work together,” Mowen said.

Chairman Bloomfield said during Monday night’s committee of the whole meeting that the Carthage Police chief will begin an audit of the Colchester Police Department this week.

Officials are planning a town hall for residents to come voice their thoughts this month, but no date has been set yet. 

NEWS3 reached out to Sheriff Nick Petitgout, but he declined to comment. 

Colchester Mayor Danny Bice did not return our calls.