Johnsburg to subscribe to faster crime lab, add two officers

JOHNSBURG – Four months passed before the Johnsburg Police Department heard back from the state crime lab on a burglary case.

It took six months to get the results on a 2010 sexual assault.

When 16 anonymous cards were sent to people connected to St. John the Baptist Catholic School, the Johnsburg Police Department sent the letters to the State Police Crime Lab to run the fingerprints.

The wait had Johnsburg Police Chief Keith Von Allmen wondering if the issue could have been wrapped up before the school’s spring break ended had the village still subscribed to the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Lab in Vernon Hills.

The full-service crime lab, funded by a consortium of area departments, was cut from the village’s budget in 2009 due because of the recession. The village switched to the state police crime lab, which does not charge any fees.

But the turnaround at the state police crime lab has lengthened, Von Allmen said. Results from the pay-for lab can be returned in 5 days to a month.

He requested the village rejoin the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Lab as well as add two new full-time officers to the payroll.

“The public expects us to provide them a certain level of service,” Von Allmen said. “If you could imagine the victim of an assault having to wait six months to get results, I personally find that unacceptable.”

The Johnsburg Village Board approved the additions in its latest budget, adding $240,000 to the police department’s $1.4 million budget.

Von Allmen referred questions on how the changes affected the overall budget to Village Administrator Claudett Peters, who did not return multiple calls for comment.

Von Allmen expects to have one officer hired in the “near future.” He needs to have the Village Board officially create the position and run candidates through background, polygraph, physical, psychological and drug tests.

The other officer would be hired at the beginning of next year, Von Allmen said.

The department currently has eight full-time officers, eight part-time officers, an office clerk and one part-time community service and code officer. One full-time officer was cut in 2007 as the village grappled with shrinking budgets.

Johnsburg has 1.3 full-time officers for every thousand residents, according to a presentation Von Allmen made to the board. The average for area departments is 1.8. The two new officers will bring the village’s rate up to 1.6.

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