By Anne Eickstadt


ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Daily Republican
Deputy Chief Wallace explains hiring practices at the Belvidere Police Department.

Week Two of the Citizen’s Police Academy began with Session One. Deputy Chief Matthew Wallace was scheduled to be in two places at the same time Wednesday, Feb. 7, so he swapped sessions with Officer Tim Blankenship. Officer Blankenship provided plenty of interest with ‘A Day in the Life of a Police Officer’ so no one was too disappointed.

Mayor Mike Chamberlain came in to do the official welcome to CPA speech. “I’m blessed to be the Mayor for a community where people get involved,” Mayor Mike said. “It’s through programs like this that helps keep crime down. I graduated from this class myself last time it was held. The police and VIPS become a big family.”

Deputy Chief Wallace took over from the Mayor. “Because of the Citizen’s Police Academy and our citizen’s outreach, we have a different relationship with people in the community. We spend a lot of time out in the community and VIPS (Volunteers In Police Service) can be our ambassadors to the community, explaining why we do what we do.

“Crime rate is significantly lower in this community than in surrounding areas,” he said. “Rockford was the most violent city in the country last year. We spend a lot of time keeping problems out of the community.

“We make traffic stops, letting bad guys see that our police are out there. Our canines work nights because that’s when the most violent crimes happen. Our drug unit covers all of Boone County, including Belvidere. Our crime is about 90 percent driven by drugs. The drug problem created a gang problem, so we have a gang unit.

We added another detective for auto theft. We have specialty detectives and general case detectives to investigate and deal with everything else.

“We have computer crime in the area so we work with the Secret Service who cover a lot of computer crimes. Against what some people believe online adult pornography like is not a crime and is completely legal, Child pornography on the other hand is and it makes up a large portion of computer crimes. This community has the largest number of child pornography cases in Northern Illinois, including Chicago so we have a detective division for computer crime.

“Most of the car crimes committed in Belvidere are committed by people from other communities. We know because we caught them.

“The BPD has three administrative assistants. One for patrol officers to help with the paperwork so they can get back out on the street, one to help with the detectives’ reports, and one for administrative work to help with paperwork from the Chief and Deputy Chiefs.

“Most police departments in Illinois have six to eight officers. We are substantially bigger because we have so many specialty areas: IDOT, K-9, fleet, budget, SWAT Team, firearms training, sniper program, range, and firearms/ammunition inventory. Everyone wears multiple hats.

“Most police officers who start with the BPD stay with the BPD. Only one or two have left to go elsewhere. We don’t lose officers because of the relationships we have. This is a family. The City Council and the Mayor take good care of us. On average officers stay 20 to 25 years. They get a fair wage and work hard for the community because they love the job. When we are hiring, some officers do not make it through probation. The ones that do make it through – stay.

“Applicants to work with the BPD have to be physically fit. We lose 25 percent of candidates from the physical fitness test. We lose another 25 percent from

For complete article, pick up the Feb. 21 Belvidere Daily Republican.

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