Preparing for decrease in state police presence


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Jason Thomasson

BROOKPORT, IL.---Amped-up police protection has become commonplace in tornado-ravaged Brookport.

But that's slowly changing as Illinois state police decrease their patrols in the area.  The Brookport Bridge is now open for any and all drivers, no 'I.D.' required. The checkpoints at the edge of town are gone.

The Brookport Police Chief said there are four police officers on staff, but one of them is a tornado victim. His house was damaged in the tornado, so he's been working to find a home for his family and is not on duty. State police still have a presence there and the chief says there's only one known instance of looting. He hopes it stays that way, and neighbors who admit they are vulnerable, do too. 

"My house has been condemned, my cars totaled," Lucille Shannon said.

She also lost two friends in the Brookport tornado.
Losing even more didn't cross her mind.

"I didn't even think about that I was just glad to be alive," Shannon said.

Brookport Police Chief and former State Police Officer John Barr has worked in tornado damaged towns before and says he knew what Brookport needed to do to protect people and property.

"My main thing is security once it gets dark, because once it gets dark that's when the people come in," Barr said.

The one looting incident is one too many.

"You want to do everything to put your place back together and these people don't need people coming in and taking advantage of that," Barr said.

While there are fewer state police officers in town, they maintain a presence, along with local law enforcement.

I've got officers at least in town 24/7," Barr said.

Shannon said what Brookport needs is not more police, but prayer.

"That's going to help us all. Everything's going to be taken care of," Shannon said.

The chief said there's also a phone scam going on.
He's received reports that someone claiming to be from FEMA is calling his residence asking for their social security numbers and personal information.
If you get this call, it is a scam. Hang up and report it to police.

Lucille Shannon is going to rent for the time being. She says she did have homeowners insurance. She doesn't want to leave Brookport behind.

The chief is still asking sightseers to stay out of his city, as the roads are highly congested.