Highwood considers eliminating local police

November 17, 2009 (HIGHWOOD, Ill.) The ordinance was up for discussion at the council meeting in the north suburb. Hundreds of people were expected to attend.

The city is considering eliminating the police department and contracting out for law enforcement services from the Lake County Sheriff's Department. The city said it has shrinking revenues and increased expenditures.

"The city council wants to look at every option to turn around and gain some economies of scale and reduce the expense going out to the taxpayers," said Gregory Jackson, Highwood city manager.

The Lake County Sheriffs' Department was expected to make a presentation at the council meeting Tuesday evening to tell members about the sheriff's office and what their contractual rates are and how they can handle the job of policing Highwood.

"They came to us, and we will tell them what we have to offer and services we could provide," said Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran. "It is a decision that needs to be made by Highwood."

The sheriff says this is the wave of the future and the department takes on police responsibilities for a number of communities.

"We're getting calls all over the place. When I talk to other sheriffs in Illinois, the same thing is happening," Curran said.

Highwood business owners and residents are speaking out on the issue.

"Certainly, it's because of the services they are providing to others that the city council thought it was reasonable to look at this in more detail," said Nuala Kavanagh of Bridie Mckenna's restaurant.

"Personally, I'm a little bit disappointed because I think having the police in the community makes a difference to the people who live here and the businesses around here," Highwood resident Cathy Mintern said.

"Communities need local enforcement. Besides, we've got a little bit of a gang problem starting here. So, maybe they should bring more police in rather than less," Highwood resident Tony Carani.

Some residents said they are concerned about whether the sheriff's office would be able to respond to a 911 call in a timely manner.

"We want to do a good job wherever we are," said Sheriff Curran.

A decision will not be made Tuesday evening.

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