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Belleville moves forward with approval of auxiliary officers

BELLEVILLE, IL - The Belleville City Council approved a measure Monday that will allow volunteer, auxiliary officers to be more directly involved in police work.  The measure places auxiliary officers under the command of the police chief.  Chief William Clay said he hopes to use auxiliary officers as a secondary resource for current officers.

“They will have to go through the same training that a police officer has to go through to carry a firearm,” said Belleville Police Chief William Clay.

Auxiliary officers have carried their own firearms in the past.  Now they will receive department-issued firearms.  Auxiliary officers are not required to go through the police academy but Clay said they will receive the same training officers receive regarding firearm use.

He expects auxiliary officers to be used primarily to help with the many parades and festivals Belleville hosts.

“That’s where they’re going to come in handy and assist us with traffic and those types of things,” said Clay.  I don’t think we’re going to see any pushback. We’re never going to use them alone and we will never use them to take away work from our sworn officers.”

Auxiliary officers do not have the same legal authority as a police officer.

“They will always be with a sworn police officer so they won’t have to make decisions on whether to arrest you or not.  That will be the decisions made by the police officers,” said Clay.

“I’m excited that we’re getting this moving this forward.  It’s something that we’ve talked about for quite a while,” said Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert.

He said the auxiliary officers will be able to provide officers some backup in situations where having an extra set of eyes or ears could help.

“That’s just great for all of us, especially at a time when budgets are tight and challenges don’t go away,” said Eckert.