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Council grants cop bonuses

Assembly to commend city

Springfield will also recognize the city of Aurora for its significant reduction in violent crime.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia announced Tuesday that she plans to congratulate the city with a House Resolution in the General Assembly in honor of Aurora’s efforts to fight crime.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment and I commend the efforts of all those involved including the Aurora Police Department, Mayor Weisner, community groups and the people of Aurora,” Chapa LaVia said in a press release.

House Resolution 10 was filed Jan. 10 congratulating “the citizens and officials of the City of Aurora for having a zero murder rate during the 2012 calendar year.”

Updated: February 24, 2013 6:27AM

Members of the faith-based community Tuesday night recalled some of Aurora’s bloodiest years.

“When I moved here 16 years ago to plant a church, I was told by Mayor Stover, then chief, that there was blood running in the streets,” said Robby Dawkins, pastor of The Vineyard Church on Aurora’s near East Side.

He said he remembered vividly meeting with a 16-year-old gang member and his mother, telling the boy that if he didn’t get out, he would die before his 17th birthday.

Dawkins said he got the call notifying him of the young man’s brutal beating and death just four months later.

The impassioned argument was one of many that community members, and particularly pastors in Aurora, offered in support of bonuses for the city’s sworn police officers at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

Following on the heels of a murder-free year in Aurora in 2012, the Aurora City Council voted to award $500 bonuses to each of the city’s current sworn police officers.

“Is $500 a lot of money?” said Mayor Tom Weisner, who first proposed the bonuses to the council. “No, but it is a symbol of our appreciation for work well done.”

The vote passed 9-1, with Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, voting against. Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns was absent.

Lawrence said he voted against the bonuses because offering money “cheapened” the thank-you.

“There are a lot of other things that can be done,” he said. “It’s not just about writing a check.”

Just one resident spoke out against the bonuses, saying they were a poor use of taxpayer funds that could be spent more efficiently on equipment or K-9 units for the police department.

But several community members and aldermen defended the expense as a simple way to offer thanks.

“It is just simply saying a very sincere ‘thank you,’” said At-Large Alderman Bob O’Connor.

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