Since June 1969, nearly 200 local residents have been part of the Hillsboro Auxiliary Police organization in support of the Hillsboro Police Department.
Captain Bobby Johnson said the organization was started as Civil Defense in 1969, and later evolved into an auxiliary police unit.
"The Civil Defense had more authority than we do now," Johnson said. "But our mission is still the same, to support our local law enforcement."
Johnson said the Hillsboro Auxiliary Police is one of the last remaining volunteer auxiliary police units in the state of Illinois. Current members include Chief Jeff Knodle, Assistant Chief Michael Lee, Captain Bobby Johnson, Sergeant Dave Beal, Quarter Master Amanda Johnson and officers John Jolliff, Matt Warren, Tim Siverley and Eric Applegate.
The organization can have up to 25 members, and Johnson said they are always accepting applications at Hillsboro City Hall. Applicants must be a high school graduate and have no criminal record.
Local residents notice their presence most at local events, providing traffic control and crowd control at local festivities, like the July 4 celebration and Old Settlers. They also help to close roads at many of the 5K and road race events.
By providing coverage of these events, it allows for Hillsboro police officers to continue their regular patrols, instead of being pulled out of service for traffic control.
They also do lots of behind the scenes jobs to make local events a success. Johnson said one of their biggest jobs at Old Settlers is setting up and tearing down more than 750 no parking signs along the parade route.
For their service, the Hillsboro Auxiliary Police was honored in 2016 with the Hillsboro Sertoma Club's Service to Mankind Award.
"I joined after I moved to Hillsboro in 2008," Johnson said. "I felt like it was a good way I could give back to the community, and really made me feel like I was part of the community."
He said he and the other officers enjoy working with local residents and helping to provide pertinent information when roads are closed.
Johnson added that it's a good starting place for anyone interested in law enforcement.
He said two Hillsboro police officers (Frank Kenny and Tim Hopper) and one county deputy (Bruce Sanford) all got their start with the Hillsboro Auxiliary Police.
"My goal is to get this group back to what it used to be in support of our police force," Johnson said. "We want to be able to offer more programs in our community."
The organization was honored with a special reception on Saturday, July 13, at the Challacombe House in Hillsboro, marking 50 years of service to the community.