By TED DABROWSKI and JOHN KLINGNER
State politicians continue to ignore Illinois’ local pension crisis, forcing suburban and downstate cities to cut staff, including active police officers, to make room for skyrocketing pension costs.
A Wirepoints’ analysis of Illinois’ 175 largest municipalities with dedicated police and fire pension funds found that since 2003, pension costs as a share of general city budgets have doubled to 17 percent. The pension crowd-out is a big reason why nearly 100 of those cities have cut their active police officer count, with 50 cities seeing reductions of 10 percent or more.
That has left crime-ridden cities like East St. Louis and Harvey with a fraction of their law enforcement. East St. Louis has cut its police force by 50 percent, or 34 active officers, since 2003, while Harvey has lost 41 percent of its force, leaving the city with 24 fewer active policemen.
In all, the 98 cities have cut nearly 600 sworn officers since 2003, the earliest year data is available from the Illinois Department of Insurance.
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