Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana asked Winnebago County board members, during their board meeting Tuesday night, for more money to fight crime. The money would go towards hiring more officers, getting more squad cars, and hiring additional corrections officers.
The sheriff says, “Right now we have a very high crime rate, one of the highest in the United States. It’s circled around gangs, and drugs, and human trafficking. That’s another area we are really gonna drill down on, the human trafficking area.”
The County granted the sheriff his wish. They voted to refinance a loan for the county jail to free up an extra three million dollars for the sheriff’s department.
Refinancing the loan for will extend the County’s one percent sales tax for 10 years. But the sheriff says the money will go to good use.
He says, “Each department from the control division, to the corrections divisions, to civil process, to the detective bureau has a strategic plan which has an overall view on how we are going to grow that department.”
The item passed by a vote of 13-5. Some County Board members felt they should look for other options to help the sheriff beef up his staff, in a way that won’t be a burden on taxpayers.
Winnebago County board member David Boomer says, “We need to look at our budget and find where our spending is being appropriated, and re-appropriate to more positive causes to help the sheriff and prevent more crime in Winnebago County.”
But County Board member Eli Nicolosi feels residents won’t mind continuing to pay the sales tax, if it means safer streets.
He says, “We can’t allow more drugs to come into the county, we can’t allow more murders coming into the county. We really got to bolster our troops and stand up to these bullies and say enough is enough.”