Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 12, 2013

Weapons topic of animal control discussion

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Effingham County officials are considering putting the county's animal control department under the supervision of the sheriff's department.

County Board officials have heard the arguments before in favor of the move. At Monday's Legislative Committee of the Whole meeting, board members heard more discussion on the issue.

Animal Control Manager Brent Budde told the committee he didn't think it was necessary to place his department under any other.

"It's not going to help us do our job any better," Budde said. "To me, if you don't have to have a middleman, why have it?

"We've come a long way," Budde added. "I've worked hard to get the department where it is today."

Budde did say he would be comfortable working under either the sheriff or the board. The department currently answers directly to the board.

One reason county officials are considering placing animal control under the supervision of the sheriff's department is so animal control officers could potentially begin carrying weapons. While Budde said he's not necessarily set on having his officers carry firearms, he did say some sort of weaponry might come in handy at times.

"We would be willing to go with non-lethal weapons, such as tasers," he said.

Budde told the committee his men do, on occasion, handle some tricky calls.

"We deal with all the crazies that the police and sheriff's department have to deal with," he said. "People can get pretty irate pretty quick."

Sheriff John Monnet said he believes the animal control officers are doing well. However, Monnet said members of the public with an animal complaint often call his office anyway.

Monnet said having the animal control officers carry weapons might be more complicated than some may think.

"If we work together with them on weapons, it's more than putting a gun in somebody's hand and taking 40 hours of training. It's more than 40 hours of standing and shooting at something that won't shoot back," he added.

Monnet was lukewarm in the meeting about adding the animal control department.

"It's not that I am about to change anything," he said. "I just think if we put it under my authority, it might be better for everybody."

Monnet said he would, however, like to see better radio communication between the sheriff's office and animal control. Budde said the previous radios didn't work as they were supposed to, so he removed them.

"It came to a point we couldn't rely on them," Budde said.

Budde added he'd like to have computers in the animal control trucks to record calls as they are happening.

Board Chairman Jim Niemann said there wasn't any need for urgent action Monday, and added the issue could be re-visited at another meeting.

In the only action taken Monday, the committee recommended appointing David Budde and Larry Thies to two-year terms on the Ambulance Oversight Committee, and Todd Hull to a two-year term on the Economic Development Committee. The full board will consider those recommendations at its Feb. 19 meeting.

Also Monday, information technology specialist Jason Repking walked the committee - and employees from several county departments - through the county's new website.

Repking said he hopes to have the site complete by late May. Department heads are encouraged to email the information they want on their department's page to Repking as soon as possible.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.