BEMENT — One year after contracting with the Piatt County sheriff's office to provide coverage, the village board has opted to bring back its own police department.
Board members voted 4-3 at a special meeting this week not to renew its agreement with the sheriff's office and instead provide coverage locally. Village President Pat Tieman cast the tie-breaking vote, with board members Woodie Dean, David Edbrooke and Carol Kalk also voting yes. Dissenting were Dan Brue, Robert Stevens Jr. and Chad Corum.
Tieman, who said he would look at bringing a local police department back to Bement during his campaign for mayor, said this is something the community wanted and something he wanted to provide.
"The county by no means has done anything wrong for us, it wasn't that," Tieman said. "However, I felt we needed 40 hours a week and I would like to have the coverage at night time. Those were my concerns."
Piatt County Sheriff David Hunt said he was billing the village $3,600 per month for 28 hours a week ($43,200 annually). Hunt said turnover in the department had made it difficult to ramp up to the 40 hours a week that was in the contract, but that he was nearly ready to get patrol hours in Bement to that point.
"It doesn't necessarily disappoint me, but it makes me confused as to how they are going to do what we could do as a full department," said Hunt. He also said he felt patrols had been effective, pointing to 45 arrests made in Bement the first seven months of the contract.