The St. Clair County State's Attorney has commissioned a member of the Illinois Air National Guard to serve with a regional team of police officers to beef up the manpower available in the fight against crime.
Joe Beliveau, commander of the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southern Illinois, or MEGSI, said the new member of the team, Kevin Crolly, will go into the police academy at the end of January and will graduate in two and a half months.
Also, an East St. Louis police officer and a Caseyville police officer will begin work with the regional team but their names are not being released because of the nature of their job.
Crolly has worked with the Illinois Air National Guard for 16 years in the National Guard's Counter Drugs program.
"I was detached to Illinois State Police, District 11 Zone 6 Investigations for six years," Crolly said. He served ISP as an intelligence/special agent.
Part of the newly assigned officers' salaries will be paid for through a Byrne Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Beliveau said. The amount of the grant money MEGSI received was not available.
Crolly previously has worked with the Working Against Violent Elements, or WAVE, team. This group formed in 2009 and is comprised of local, state and federal officers who fight crime in the East St. Louis area.
"I met Kevin Crolly on a ride along with WAVE last year," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said. "It was a busy night with shots fired, undercover drug buys and a multicar police chase that went over the MLK Bridge a few times. Kevin was as cool as a cucumber. You could tell he had some serious military training."
Kelly commissioned Crolly on Wednesday.
"I look forward to working with MEGSI who I was hired by," Crolly said. "I will finish the police academy in about 10 weeks. Our ultimate goal is to make the area as safe as possible for the residents in St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties."
Kelly added, "As a team which includes the local police WAVE (Working Against Violent Elements), the State's Attorneys office and the U.S. Attorney's office, we've made some progress in the East St. Louis area, but it has been two steps forward and one step back."
Kelly said despite having limited resources, the East St. Louis Police Department stepped up and assigned an officer to MEGSI. "I am particularly proud of the East St. Louis Police Department," Kelly said. "I am hopeful that other departments will contribute, too. Officers in MEGSI get great training they can bring back to their community. It is also a recognition that no community in St. Clair County is an island unto themselves. Festering crimes in some communities eventually harms other communities so we have to think and act differently."
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.