Illinois' largest police training facility could shut down due to budget crisis

Sarah Schulte Image
Friday, November 6, 2015
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The state's budget crisis is putting special training for police officers at risk.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In order for police to do their job well on the street, officers must log many hours in a classroom. But state's budget crisis is putting some of that vital training at risk.

"I've likened it to playing on an athletic field, coaches say 'play the way you practice, practice the way you play,'" said Officer Michael Luehr, Park Ridge Police.

After basic training in the police academy, it takes additional training throughout an officer's career for things like evidence technicians, homicide investigations, DUI stops, accident reconstruction - and the list goes on.

Much of the training is mandated by state law, including a new bill requiring more training in response to fatal police encounters. But, the state budget crisis has put all that training at risk.

"C'mon, you can't tell us you want to be trained in certain areas and stop the funding that allows us to do it and hold us accountable. It doesn't make sense," said Frank Kaminski, president, Illinois Association Chiefs of Police.

Without a state budget, Illinois' largest police training facility may be forced to shut down. North East Multi-Regional Training is responsible for training over 320 local police departments. Known as NEMRT, it has already cut over 100 classes since September.

"As of Jan 1, we will probably be out of money and funds we have to continue to train past that time," said Tom Reasoner, NEMRT.

NEMRT is funded in part by money collected from traffic convictions, so the funds exist, but are tied up until Springfield passes a budget.

"We got to fix it. It's getting to the public sector now, the public safety. And public safety will be in jeopardy," Kaminsky said.

The only hope for police departments right now is a bill pending in Springfield that will free up some money for training. But if that's not passed, officers will have to wait until the budget crisis is over.