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Dana has its own police, and contracts with Kangley, Ransom, Flanagan

Dana is tucked away in La Salle County's panhandle with about 154 people, approximately 30 miles from the county seat in Ottawa.

The village's relative remoteness prompted Dana officials to establish a police department one year ago.

"Sheriff's deputies can't be everywhere. If it's not life-threatening, they have to prioritize. We had to help ourselves," said Village President Joseph Centeno.

Centeno noted Dana is not overrun with crime, but occasional policing is needed and illegal drugs are sometimes present. The village talked with La Salle County Sheriff Tom Templeton about its plan to set up a department, with Templeton backing the idea.

The department's station is at the rear of Village Hall, with Chief Matthew Schell, five part-time officers, two code enforcement officers and six vehicles. The department also has a police dog, which some larger departments do not possess.

Schell said La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly donated $1,000 to his force and Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei let Dana buy an old Peru police vehicle at a bargain price. Other equipment has been donated or bought elsewhere at low cost.

Schell also is a police officer in Toluca and was formerly police chief of nearby Rutland.

The Dana force has mutual aid agreements with neighboring Wenona and Toluca, but more importantly has arrangements with the more distant burgs of Kangley, Ransom and Flanagan to contract out its officers. Dana officers provide full police service in Kangley and Ransom, but only code enforcement in Flanagan.

"We're not looking to make money. We couldn't support our department without contracting with other towns," Centeno noted.

Dana charges the towns hourly for the services of its officers, but officers still wear Dana uniforms.

"They've pulled drivers over in Kangley, and they see the Dana patch and ask what Dana's doing in Kangley," Centeno said.

Dana officers are actually busier in Kangley than Dana — both communities are tiny, but Kangley is attached to 13,135-resident Streator. Most of the work in Kangley is related to keeping down speeding on the village's main drag, although at least one traffic stop there led to the seizure of illegal guns.

Schell noted his officers have not confiscated any hard drugs in any of the communities, but have made a number of marijuana seizures.

"We're filling a niche and making a difference. There are a lot of small towns, with a small tax base, that can't afford a department," Schell observed. "We're appealing to those towns to join us."

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