TROUBLESHOOTERS: IDES offices remain closed as ‘phased reopening’ approaches

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PEORIA, IL (HEART OF ILLINOIS ABC) — Workers are at Illinois Department of Employment Security offices statewide, but the doors are still locked.

"If you have questions it’s much harder to get answers and takes much longer than being able to just walk in the office and get answers to your questions which results in a delay of collecting your benefits if you need them," said a man who spoke to the Troubleshooters anonymously.

He said the pandemic cost him about 75% of his income.

He recently went to the Peoria office to try and talk to someone, but was only able to speak to a security guard who told him he had to leave a note requesting a call.

Jessica Cook asked him, "Why do you feel the office should be opened again?

"The drivers bureau is open. There’s other state offices open. Almost every place is now open. If you can walk into a restaurant you should be able to go to the unemployment office and walk in."

Governor JB Pritzker has been asked about IDES several times throughout the pandemic.

This is what he told our Capitol Bureau Chief during a recent interview about the agency reopening to the public.

“Literally bomb threats, people threatened with bodily harm who work in those offices. So, we’ve been working with State Police to make sure that we have a safe way to reopen those offices across the state," Pritzker explained.

The Troubleshooters filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if any threats have been made to the Peoria office.

From March 1st, 2020 to July 31st of this year there were 4 police reports.

It started June 27th of last year.

A 49-year-old man says he went to the office to get a phone number.

He left his car running in the parking lot…And it was stolen.

About two months later a man was at the office and said upset he wasn’t getting any help or a call back.

An employee thought he overheard the man make a statement "regarding getting a gun."

The man was gone when police got there, but possibly went back and left a note.

State Police reports show the note said in part…"I’m becoming desperate and don’t want to do something I will regret for the rest of my life."

On June 29th an older female and middle aged man wanted to talk to someone about unemployment benefits.

A security guard told them they wouldn’t be able to and the lady started making threats.

She would come back to the building and "Blow the place up."

The property was damaged 2 days later.

The internet box appeared to be kicked over and a different electrical box was kicked.

As for when you’ll be able to walk in the door, IDES Acting Director Kristin Richards said they’ve been working on a reopening plan for months.

It will a phased approach starting later this summer.

State and local police along with Central Management Services, who oversees leases on the facilities, are involved.

Richards said, "Pre pandemic American job centers provided limited unemployment insurance services. We imagine that will be the situation again once we move to an appointment based system at least on the onset. We are going to look at this as a phased approach to see what works, but ultimately we do want to make sure that everyone’s needs are met."

Richards said she’s not in a position to give an exact date when appointments will start, but had this to say when asked if a full reopening was possible by the end of the year.

"I certainly hope so. We are going to do everything we possibly can to get ourselves in that position," said Richards.

She said for now the quickest way to connect is with the call center.

Richards said over the past few months call back times have reduced and sometimes they are returned within the day, but on average it’s a three to five day wait.

The Troubleshooters reached out to State Police and was provided this statement:

"The Illinois State Police offered training and assistance with security measures for the Illinois Department of Employment Security. We have assessed their buildings and made recommendations to IDES based on those assessments. The ISP will decline to discuss the specifics of those assessments, recommendations and implementations as it would be counterintuitive to the mission of securing those facilities and the safety of the people who visit and work at those sites."

-Beth Hundsdorfer, Public Information Office, Illinois State Police

The post TROUBLESHOOTERS: IDES offices remain closed as ‘phased reopening’ approaches appeared first on HOIABC.

News,Region: Peoria,City: Peoria,Central

via HOIABC https://hoiabc.com

August 10, 2021 at 07:06PM

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