- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

DIXON, Ill. (AP) - The director of a northern Illinois law enforcement training unit says it could close soon amid the state budget impasse.

The Dixon-based Northwest Illinois Criminal Justice Commission serves nearly 500 law enforcement personnel in six counties, and is one of 14 state-run centers that coordinate recertification courses. The commission is under the umbrella of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, which can’t access funding without a state budget.

Dixon training unit director Doug Fargher told The (Dixon) Telegraph (https://bit.ly/1QmsOhZ ) this week the unit is projected to close in February when reserve funds run dry. Fargher said a lone grant is keeping the training unit running, and that he had to lay off his assistant in October when it faced a shutdown this month.

The training unit has rescheduled or canceled more than 20 courses critical to keeping officers current on mandates, Fargher said, effectively “kicking the can down the road” with Illinois now in its fifth month without a budget.

Certifications affected by the unit’s partial shutdown include those on mental health, radar gun use, interrogations, terrorism and sex offender training.

Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi, one of the unit’s advisory board members, said the training is “an invaluable education tool.” But he said the state is “playing politics.”

“It’s costing the good citizens, and it’s just people playing chicken,” Wilhelmi said.

If the training unit has to close, Fargher said 48 area departments would have to get by on in-house training, or the unit would have to arrange courses “at no cost.” He said sending staff outside a department for training can cost thousands of dollars.

“With all the scrutiny on police … it’s tough when you can’t send your people to training because there’s no money for it,” Wilhelmi said.

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Information from: Dixon Telegraph, https://www.saukvalley.com

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