Public meeting to discuss future of Cerro Gordo policing

A meeting to discuss the future of policing in Cerro Gordo is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 12 at the Cerro Gordo Civic Center at 304 E. North St.

After the resignation of longtime Police Chief Pat Carter in January, the village board is considering a switch from a local department to contracting with the Piatt County Sheriff’s Department.

Carter had been the village’s police chief for 13 years.

“We’re going to inform people where we’re at right now, and then let them give their input,” said Village Board President Brad Williams, who noted no decision will be made that night.

A proponent of switching to county coverage, Williams also said he hopes to “get rid of some myths” regarding the possibility.

He said police coverage would be similar to the current 8 hours per day, 7 days per week, with the county providing a deputy to patrol Cerro Gordo during those times. That would be in addition to the current coverage the sheriff’s department provides in the southern portion of the county.

Williams notes Cerro Gordo has not been providing around the clock coverage, and that two part-time officers have stepped up to shoulder the load since Carter stepped down.

The village president adds it has been difficult to attract and keep officers, noting two officers have been hired in the past two years only to leave for other departments after being trained by the village.

“If you asked me whether I’d rather have a local department I’d say yes. But it’s just not the reality anymore,” said Williams, who estimated the contract with the county would cost the village about $20,000 less than the $140,000 annually that is currently budgeted for policing.

Williams said contracting out police coverage is becoming more widespread, especially in towns of fewer than 2,500 people. He said Forsyth has such an arrangement with the Macon County Sheriff’s Department.

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