New Danville Budget Plan Includes $$ For Separate Police, Fire Chiefs
Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Junior says one of his goals as he prepares to start a full term is to get new police and fire chiefs in place – replacing the position of public safety director.
Former Mayor Scott Eisenhauer merged the police and fire chief jobs into a single public safety director in 2004, in a budget-balancing move. But splitting the job in two again was widely supported in the recent Danville mayoral election. Williams, who won the election, says the police department needs more attention. .
“We have seen an increase in crime, and violent crime, particularly, in our community," said Williams. "And I think it’s imperative that we have someone that be able to focus on that solely, and not have their attention bisected into other areas.”
Williams says Danville also needs a separate fire chief, to ensure the city’s three fire battalions are working together.
The Danville City Council votes Tuesday night on a 2019-2020 city budget that includes funding for separate police and fire chiefs. But Mayor Williams says passage of the budget is just the first step towards implementing the two positions.
"Then after that, I’ll have to work with both our police and fire unions," said Williams. "There might be some adjustments that would need to be made to their contracts to accommodate chiefs again. We have ordinance changes that would have to take place, because right now, all of our ordinances refer to a director of public safety. And then we have to, of course, have job descriptions, interview folks and then get someone hired.”
Williams says he hopes Danville can have a police and fire chief hired by the 4th of July. Until then, Christopher Yates is serving as interim public safety director, following the retirement in March of longtime public safety director Larry Thomason.
Williams was appointed Danville's acting mayor in October of last year, after Scott Eisenhauer stepped down as mayor to become village administrator of Rantoul. Williams went on to defeat three other candidates for to win a full term as mayor in the April 2 election. He is scheduled to be sworn in for a full term as mayor on May 7, along with other elected city offiicals.
The Danville City Council meets Tuesday night, April 16, beginning at 6 PM at the Robert E. Jones Municipal Building, 17 E. Main Street.