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Washburn eliminates local police department

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WASHBURN (WEEK) -- The Village of Washburn voted Monday to eliminate its local, three-officer police department. The Woodford County Sheriff's Office will take over patrolling duties.

But while the move signals a big change on paper, village officials say not much is changing at all. The county will provide a full-time deputy to be stationed in Washburn during hours set by the village.

"No change," Mayor Steve Forney said. "Other than the face changes and the look of the car that shows up at the call will be different."

During off hours, Woodford County will dispatch other deputies to the area. This is a practice that was already being used during off hours for the local Washburn police department.

Washburn residents can still expect similar response times, and taxes will not change. Mayor Forney says the county can provide more services for the village for virtually the same cost.

"It will help mitigate going forward any increases in costs that we'll see," Forney said.

The decision was made due to staffing shortages and expected cost increases as a result of the new Police Reform Act approved by legislators in Illinois earlier this year.

"Costs will be going up related to liability, insurance, all those kind of things," Forney said. "The timing seemed right to do it."

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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