Folks in Belvidere can feel a little safer. Their fire and police units are growing.
It's not much but the growth is coming. Government grants are responsible. Federal money will let some new hires boost public safety numbers. For police, the process comes with a catch.
"The money had to be used to hire United States veterans," said Belvidere Police Chief Jan Noble.
Two men or women who've served their country will soon serve Belvidere. Those are the rules of the justice department grant.
"It'll reduce our response time. It'll get officers that backup they need on those hot calls and most importantly it'll make everything we do more efficient," said Sergeant Mark Pollock.
Belvidere Fire couldn't agree more.
"The more guys the merrier. And the more guys, the safer it is for us," said former fire union president Ted Vickers.
That department's got a FEMA grant for two more firefighters. Extra bodies could cure firefighter fatigue and save money.
"There's been some extra overtime and sometimes it's been stressful on some of the guys on shift because they have to work a lot of extra overtime," said Vickers
Belvidere's got 27 firefighters now in a city of about 25,000. Chief David Worrell hopes with the grant covering salary and benefits there's room to grow.
"Each... additional set of hands on an emergency scene makes a big difference in how adequately we handle the emergency," he said.
"The prospects of having an additional officer to enhance and support the patrol division, especially because that's where we get the greatest amount of calls for service has been a real boom to moral of the department," said Chief Noble.
On top of the two grant-funded veterans Belvidere Police will hire, the department's got its own money to add one more patrol officer. Those fire grants are good for two years non-renewable. Chief Worrell hopes financial conditions are better when that time expires so he can keep those positions.
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