ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
One of the students in the Citizens Police Academy tries on the heavy equipment vest the officers wear.

By Anne Eickstadt


Officer Tim Blankenship has worked within many departments of the Belvidere Police Department. He has worked both the night shift and the day shift, and has been a field-training officer and an acting supervisor. He currently holds the position of Community Policing Coordinator.

He has held this position since 2016 when he was chosen to replace the retiring John Fish, who worked to keep the lines of communication open between the community and police in order to keep neighborhoods and businesses safe. Officer Blankenship frequently visits schools, retirement facilities, organizations, and events to give talks, visit with residents, and interact with the community.

During the second session of the Citizens Police Academy, Officer Tim introduced the group to a police officer’s equipment. He started with the new equipment vest we all see police officers wearing. The vest holds a couple pairs (or more) of handcuffs, an expandable baton, his police radio, and Taser. Guns are still worn on the officer’s belt. Vests have replaced BPD officers’ equipment belts to reduce health problems and back issues that could be caused by the weight of the belt on the hips. The vest is bulletproof and can weigh between 30 and 35 pounds.

The officer’s duty bag holds a ticket book and forms for all kinds of things, such as inventory forms for vehicles which are towed, towing forms, crash reports, and seized vehicle reports. They have criminal complaint forms for victims to sign and intent to prosecute forms. They carry receipts for evidence and bags to hold the evidence, graffiti notices, tow stickers, and missing item/missing person forms. Some forms are used frequently and some infrequently, but they still may be needed depending on what occurs during the shift. When a situation comes up, the officers do not have time to go back to the station and pick up something they will need, so they must have it in their ‘mobile office’ when they start their shift.

Inside their heads, they need to know the Police Manual, the Vehicle Code, and all pertinent information from the law books that will pertain to whatever situation they are racing towards with siren blaring or running silent to prevent the perpetrators from knowing they are on their way. They also need to know the fastest way to get from any point in town to any other point (not always easy).

Police also carry equipment in their car, which needs to be ready to go before their shift starts. The car needs to be stocked and the lights and siren need to be in good working order. In the car is a shield in case of armed violence situations, a rifle, a less-than-lethal shotgun, and ammunition for both, as well as stop sticks. The officers need to do a vehicle inspection before shift starts to make sure that it is in good running order. They then attend a briefing to get their assignments for the day and off they go.

The Belvidere Police Dept. runs two 12-hour shifts each day. Shifts begin and end at 5:30 a.m./p.m. Some officers have traffic duty, some cover the high schools and middle schools, some watch businesses, serve warrants, patrol residential areas, attend community events, and essentially try to be everywhere in the community to keep people safe. They depend on citizens to call 9-1-1 when they see or hear anything suspicious, notice drunk or erratic driving, or anything that seems out of place to assist them in keeping Belvidere safe.

Officer Tim related some of his own experiences in seeking and arresting people in the community. He also showed a dash cam video of two police officers, Officers Joe McDermott and Ryan Davenport who dove into a freezing cold river to rescue a drunk driver and her baby.

Police continue training throughout their career to make sure they are up-to-date on changes in the law and new equipment, keep their CPR certification current, and the many other things that are constantly changing in their profession.


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