By Shelby R. Farrell


BELVIDERE – Although the City of Belvidere has succeeded in fighting drug crimes over the last year, a new narcotic enforcement group and partnership with Boone County was formed to catch even more drug offenders.

The Belvidere City Council approved the Mutual Aid and Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force Interagency Agreement, along with a new Narcotics Sergeant position, at the Monday, Sept. 21 meeting.

Belvidere Police Department and Boone County Sheriff’s Office both had two full-time drug enforcement officers before the agreement, but when Belvidere Police Chief Jan Noble presented the agreement to the Committee of the Whole on Sept. 14, he said it didn’t make sense to not work together.

“We felt we could be more effective, more efficient, and our bottom line is to make every attempt and to rid the community of the number one problem that drives our crime rate in our city,” he said.

The Belvidere Police Department created its drug enforcement unit in 1996, and Noble said the department has assigned a Senior Investigator to a Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, task force in Rockford.

“Our experienced, senior police, officer who is currently assigned to this task force, spends a lot of time on those long-term, complex investigations,” Noble said.

“Here in the city, we’re dealing more with the street-level violators, and the DEA task force is for those hugely complex, usually problems that travel between states. Our local problems are dealing with individuals traveling between Rockford and here and the surrounding communities.”

He said the investigator working with DEA will continue in addition to the happenings in the Belvidere jurisdiction.

Although the Belvidere Police Department and its drug enforcement unit have been effective for over the 18 years, Noble said the agreement is the best way to progress.

“We’ve been doing an excellent job, but we believe we could be more effective by the county and the city joining hands,” he said. “We believe that it is in the best interest of the taxpayers of both the city and the county that a joint drug unit be formed.”

When the chief brought the agreement to the Committee of the Whole meeting, 5th Ward Alderman Mark Sanderson had some concerns about the financial aspects of the agreement and how it will affect taxpayers.

The agreement joins together the four officers already working as drug enforcement officers with Boone Count and the City of Belvidere.

Noble said the new position created to over-see the department will be filled from within the Belvidere Police Department, one of the current senior-level sergeants. An officer will be promoted to a junior-level sergeant to fill the position left empty, who will likely be in charge of a patrol unit.

Noble said salary for six months for the new sergeant position was included for the budget that went into effect on May 1. Only a half-year’s salary was included because the process to create the position takes that long.

He also said housing for the unit wasn’t included because Boone County offered to house the new joint task force in the basement of the county courthouse in Belvidere.

Sanderson also asked what the city would do if the county later didn’t have the money to cover their side of the agreement. Noble said either the City of Belvidere or Boone County could opt out of the agreement if it doesn’t work the way it is planned.

“I don’t think that’s gonna be the case,” Noble said. “I think it will indeed work. I’m asking to enter into the agreement to enter into the agreement, and let’s try it for a year. If the aldermen feel that after one year we have not produced results that we intended to produce, I would respect your authority, and we can easily pull out as easily as we went into this.”

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