Fewer Full-Time Police Officers in Carbondale

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CARBONDALE -- Leaders in Carbondale approved some major changes to the city's police department. Three of the department's most experienced members will retire before the end of the month and the city has no plans to replace them.

The door to Carbondale Police Captain Joe Pilcavage's old office was blocked, the window's dark. He retired from the force a few weeks ago, and it was all part of a deal to shrink the police force in the Pioneer City.

"If we're able to do it in a more cost effective manner, not reducing the number of officers on the street, or the hours that they're going to be patrolling, I think that's a win-win for everybody," said Carbondale Mayor Justin Taylor.

Taylor spearheaded the plan for a new police contract that reduces the amount of full-time officers from 12 to 9. City Council approved the contract this week, but Taylor's been working with the department's captain and two sergeants.

The three agreed to retire and their shifts will be covered by part-time officers.

"As costs continue to rise, and revenues unfortunately continue to decline, we have to find alternative ways to provide the service," Taylor added.

When Mayor Taylor started at City Hall there were 15 full-time police officers, then 12, now 9. But, Taylor said there are budget holes that need to be filled and this will save the city $150,000 a year.

Folks Newswatch 16 talked to in town say they remember the days of a bigger police force, and they also remember a different Carbondale.

"I think it's a bad idea to discontinue the folks that are retiring. I think you need to replace them, big time, because Carbondale's not like it used to be," said Daniel Coleman.

"It's happening all over the world, in most of the world anyway, I mean there's only so much money!" added Russell Piccotti.

Mayor Taylor said fewer full time police officers will save more money as the years go on. The contract stands for seven years.