The Winnebago County Sheriff’s office announced 80 more layoffs in the wake of a multi-million dollar cut from the Winnebago County budget, but there are still questions of what the real impact will be on the county and on public safety.
Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana says he’s remaining positive and believes his department will get through all the adjustments.
“I did not want to do this,” said Caruana. “It’s pretty tough to look at somebody and say, ‘we have to lay you off,'”
Caruana is going to have lots of those tough conversations with 80 soon-to-be former county employees. The notices are coming because the Sheriff’s department will bear the brunt of Winnebago County’s near $7 million deficit.. The Sheriff has to cover $4.3 million.
“Is it going to be a challenge? You know, you do more with less. [Yes], it is,” said Caruana.
The layoffs include 10 corrections officers and 64 part-time reserve deputies who provide security at the courthouse and justice center. Patrol officers will need to be pulled for courthouse security. The County Sheriff’s department is working with the city of Rockford to fully staff the dispatch center. The task at hand is now working through adjustments. Caruana says they’ll have more lockdowns in the jail in situations corrections officers will need to be assigned elsewhere. At the courthouse, the Sheriff’s office will work with the courts when it comes to scheduling of trials and meetings.
“We’ll meet all those obligations with the courthouse security, and we’ll meet all the obligations on patrol.”
The Sheriff says there will be an adequate officer presence at the courthouse, on the streets and at the Justice Center. However, with less manpower, their work load will get heavier.
“I know these people are good people, they’re going to raise to the occasion, whether it would be a slower lag time in different areas, yeah probably,” said Caruana. “Again, we’ll tweak it and I’m honored to work with these people.”
The Sheriff’s department expects more layoffs, but those notices have not been sent out yet.