By Bob Balgemann

Police Chief Shane Woody told the story of what happened during a previous emergency call that was handled by the police department’s Special Weapons And Tactic (SWAT) team.

“In 2019, the SWAT team was called to handle a suicidal subject armed with the rifle,” he told aldermen and the mayor at a recent committee of the whole meeting. “Once night fell and SWAT found themselves having to deal with the subject outside, with minimal to no ambient lighting, they had difficulty navigating the lighting conditions because they didn’t have proper night vision equipment for the situation.”

Woody is trying to change that now through the first in a series of purchases of night vision devices for all 18 members of the team. The initial cost for one such device is $5,417.95, which includes a helmet mount and an adapter.

The request drew little discussion, with Alderman Tom Porter asking if this was the second such device for the SWAT team, “or am I thinking of fire department equipment?”

Woody replied it was the first such purchase and he continued, “Due to the significant expense, it is the intent to purchase one for each member—we have 18 members that are operators for the county. So every year I’m budgeting for one to minimize the impact on the city, with the intent of eventually equipping all 18 team members. So, this will be a multi-year request.”

Mayor Clint Morris said the money would come from the department’s equipment line item.

Committee members recommended approval of the purchase, in a unanimous voice vote, without further discussion or questions. The matter then moved to city council, where on July 5 and without discussion, aldermen voted 9-0 to give final approval to the purchase.

Next up was the continued purchase of replacement portable radios for the department.

Woody explained that in 2018 it was determined the portable radios in use at that time were starting to fail, and parts were becoming more and more difficult to find.

“At that time we budgeted to replace all 55 radios, totaling $275,000 in capital expenditures,” he said.

This effort also is being financed over time to minimize the impact on the city, he added.

The decision was made in 2018 to budget for four radios per year until all of them had been replaced, he said. Since that fiscal year, city council has approved the purchase of 10 new radios.

Now, four years later, buying four more radios was being requested.

Woody continued his explanation, saying, “The new radios would replace radios that are approximately 15 years old and not in good working order. Four (new) portable radios were budgeted (this year) in the equipment line item for $16,000.”

However, this year’s quote from Motorola Solutions for those radios was $4,411.02 each, or a total of $17,644.08, a $355 increase from the 2021-22 purchase.

No one questioned the higher cost as the committee of the whole recommended approval of the purchase in a unanimous voice vote, without discussion. City council followed suit, in a 9-0 vote for approval with no discussion, at its July 5 meeting.

Fire report

Also June 27, newly appointed Fire Chief Shawn Schadle provided his monthly report on activities within the fire department, this time covering a five-week period.

Over that time, he said the department responded to 327 calls for service, an average of 9.3 calls per day.

“They responded to 10 fires, seven within the city,” he continued. “There was a porch house fire on Whitney Avenue and an exterior garage fire on 13th Avenue, a stove fire on Sixth Street and a car fire at one of the local dealerships. On Chrysler Drive, there was a semi that was full of dashboards and something combusted. So that was the major fires that we had.

“We received aid in two of our fires—the Whitney porch house fire and the one on Chrysler Drive. We gave aid to other communities including a house fire in South Beloit.”

Outside the responses to those kinds of emergencies, he reported the department responded to 212 emergency medical services (EMS) calls and administered CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) three times. There were three narcotic overdoses and all of them survived due to the administration of Narcan by the police and fire departments and one bystander.

In addition, Schadle said there were two “obvious deaths,” 11 chest pain issues suggestive of a heart attack, four seizures, four strokes, 14 trauma and one choking victim. The department responded to six car accidents during that period, one of them with injuries.

There were two natural gas spills and three gas leaks, he went on. Two of the gas leaks were contractors doing service work for fiber optic lines. He said they hit two of those lines, which are high-pressure gas supply lines. It took 30 minutes to an hour for NiCor to respond and he said while company representatives did a good job, it just took a while to get their trucks here.

In conclusion, he said one house was struck by lightning during the five weeks with the department making 21 public assists, investigating eight illegal burns and five carbon monoxide alarms.

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