More cities and towns here in Illinois are looking for ways to save money as municipalities wrestle with shrinking budgets. Canton police and fire will soon have one public safety director for both departments.
Canton Mayor Kent McDowell says in order to keep the city's $21-million dollar budget from falling deeper into the red he had to find ways to save money. He says consolidating the police and fire chief position into one public safety director makes sense.
"We've got to be aggressively seeking out ways to salvage our budgets and not compromise the services that we have," he said.
Public Safety Director Richard Fairburn has been on the job two weeks. He's taken the job of retired Canton Police Chief Rick Nichols and will also assume fire chief duties when Tom Schubert retires this year.
"Since 911 in this country we've been trending towards unified command which is police and fire having one command," Fairburn said.
Fairburn says he plans to fill three police jobs that will be lost through attrition, adding that will get the department back up to 19 officers.
Canton's mayor says police and fire fighters could be cross trained some day. But right now they're focused on trying to get qualified candidates for the police openings.