Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Illinois DNR Layoff Notices go out to 33 Officers

Illinois DNR Layoff Notices go out to 33 Officers

As of August 4, 2015 there is still no budget for the State of Illinois and because of that layoff notices have gone out.  Notifications went out to 33 Conservation Police Officers (CPO) across the state.  The letter stated that this was due to lack of funds effective September 30, 2015.  This could leave about 34 counties in Illinois without a Conservation Officer.  See the layoff notice here.
DNR Layoffs
New Conservation Class of 13 Officers that finished training on July 24, 2015
These are more than likely the 13 newly trained officers that received the layoff notices.
Photo Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources FB Page

Goose Hunting IllinoisPublic Safety is a major concern and with hunting season right around the corner, one wonders why they chose to layoff conservation officers of all people.  I understand that difficult times call for difficult measures, but the Department of Natural Resources have received cuts in the Office of Law Enforcement before and they were already working with less staff than a state this size should have.

As hunters and anglers we feel that Conservation Officers are vital to enable everyone to have a safe and enjoyable experience.    
Unlike many other positions in state government those that are hired as CPOs are asked to move to regions around the state.  So, imagine that you're one of the new CPOs and the state says your assigned to region X.  You proceed to move your family there to start your new job only to find out that in less then two months time, you receive notice you are out of a job.  Many of those that are laid off are also veterans who have served tours in Iraq and who now want to serve this state by protecting our natural resources.
Fishing at Banner Marsh
Why is the Office of Law Enforcement at the IDNR taking the brunt of this?  Conservation Officers are trained in a wide range of areas from fish identification to search and rescue and everything in between.  Local law enforcement does not have the training or equipment to handle the variety of scenarios that conservation officers can. For example, a couple of weeks ago a man capsized his boat in the flood swollen Sangamon river and was swept downstream. The only thing he had to hold onto was a gas can. The local rescue squad was not trained in swift water rescue. Fortunately, the local CPO was on hand and had the boating experience to know where to enter the water and how to rescue the victim, almost 2 miles downstream.  Read the full story here. Imagine local law enforcement trying to get ahold of a CPO and the closest one was a county or two over.  This is what will happen if these cuts go through.

Illinois DNR LayoffsOver the last decade and a half the IDNR has taken some serious hits and in FY16' more items were on the chopping block.  Illinois has an abundance of natural resources that deserve to be protected.  Using the Broken Windows Theory, with less officers around people are more likely to abuse our state natural resources and less likely to purchase licenses and other required permits.  This will result in a loss of revenue for the state putting the IDNR further behind.

This is all political drama that effects real people's lives but, it can all be changed if tomorrow a budget gets passed.  So, if you feel that Conservation Officers are a critical part of the IDNR call the Governor's office (217) 782-0244 and your local Representative and let them know the impact that this will have on your area and the State of Illinois and tell them to work out a deal and pass a budget.

Remember Enjoy the Outdoors Good Luck and Stay Safe -
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