BELOIT - The South Beloit Police Department hasn't had a detective on staff for nearly two decades.
Enter longtime patrol officer Paul Reed.
Reed was hired as detective in December of 2018, and has spent the last five months transitioning into his new role to boost the department's investigations and evidence processing.
Currently he's handling just over a dozen cases, something South Beloit Police Chief Pat Hoey says will take stress off patrol officers and make for better overall police work.
"When I was hired (in 2017) I heard loud and clear from our officers that we needed a detective's position," Hoey said. "Now that Paul's been doing this, it's kind of a wonder we were able to survive without this."
Before Reed's hiring, officers who responded to calls were tasked with investigation follow up, and larger cases were handled by the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office and Illinois State Police.
"We had to rely on them and they did great work for us, but it only goes so far," Hoey said. "They were very gracious to help us out."
Reed also works with the two detectives in Roscoe and Rockton for collaboration on cases.
"It's something I've always had an interest in, and I like following up on cases and doing that kind of work," Reed said. "You learn a lot. Not that you don't as a patrol officer, but it's a totally different part of the job."
Before shifting into his detective role, Reed spent 13 years working the department's night shift, and one year dayside.
He said the differences from patrol to his current role shine through in the interactions he has with residents.
"When you are a patrol officer, the majority of people you are dealing with are at their worst possible time," Reed said. "When I am following up on cases now, it seems like people are more inclined to talk and are a bit more receptive. You get a sense of helping people with what you are doing."
Reed is a member of the Winnebago and Boone County Integrity Task Force. Hoey said other officers would be sent to similar trainings that Reed took, including evidence technician courses.
"This really lets us focus our resources and increases our outcomes as a department," Hoey said.