By Bob Balgemann
BELVIDERE – The Belvidere Police Department wants to enhance its ongoing effort to reduce gang activity in the city.
Police Chief Jan Noble has asked for permission to apply for a federal grant of up to $300,000 to help develop strategies aimed at meeting that end.
The city’s committee of the whole, made up of all 10 city council members, voted 10-0 Monday, April 11 to recommend approval of the request. Aldermen will sit as the city council on Monday, April 18 and they are expected to formally approve applying for the money.
The deadline is May 23 and the grant, if received, will be good for two years.
The purpose of the grant is community-based gang prevention, intervention, and suppression. Money from the award would allow communities to hire a full-time supervisor, who would enhance existing programs. The department’s current anti-gang unit is part-time and seasonal.
Successful recipients will be required to provide data to measure results of the work they do.
There was minimal discussion among aldermen about the grant or the program.
Alderman Dan Snow was concerned about what would happen after the grant expired in two years?
Chief Noble said one of two things would occur. The additional employee would be laid off or the city budget would pick up the cost. He said the city currently has 42 sworn officers, one under the allowable limit. While he hopes to fill that vacancy in the coming year, he said he also hopes to increase the department’s manpower to 44 officers.
Public safety matters
The committee recommended unanimously that yield signs be installed at the intersection of West 5th Street and 8th Avenue, after a resident expressed concern about the intersection.
Public Works Director Brent Anderson explained the intersection currently is not working. Based on current Illinois Department of Transportation Traffic Volume Map, 8th Avenue and 5th Street each has an average daily traffic flow of fewer than 200 vehicles.
There have been four vehicle crashes at that location over the past five years, with the last one being in 2013.
“The intersection is located in a residential neighborhood with typical pedestrian activity,” he said.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of installing yield signs on 8th Avenue, at its intersection with 5th Street.

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