Questions & Answers
|For the November 2018 Election|
What is the importance of County Sheriff to residents in Champaign County?
The County Sheriff plays an integral role in the criminal justice system of Champaign County, ranging from law enforcement to jail management, and courthouse operations. The Sheriff interacts daily with all key components of the criminal justice system, including judges, the State’s Attorney, and local law enforcement agencies.
The Law Enforcement Division of the Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency for those who live in unincorporated areas or villages that lack an independent police force. The Sheriff’s Office is an active partner with city police agencies in all aspects of law enforcement, including deputies assigned to the combined Street Crimes Gun Violence Task Force.
The Corrections Division manages the two jail facilities. These responsibilities include providing care for all inmates, and ensuring each defendant appears in court as directed. Further, this division must provide proper and constitutionally appropriate care, housing, and safety for inmates who are very violent, have severe mental health problems, and/or significant medical issues. Each year there are roughly 5,500 people booked into the Champaign County Jail.
Finally, the Court Security Division secures and manages the day to day safety of the Champaign County Courthouse and occupants. Following the firebombing of the Champaign County Courthouse in 1997, security in the courthouse became a more focused priority for the community, and our security officers take the duty very seriously.
Why are you qualified to be the County Sheriff?
I’m qualified because of my experience, leadership, and the solutions I’ll bring to the office.
Over a 28-year career with the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, I’ve had the honor of serving as a corrections officer, patrol deputy, investigator, sergeant, lieutenant, Jail Administrator, and now as Champaign County Chief Deputy.
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Sciences from Illinois State University, am a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy (261st Session), the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, and the National Institute of Corrections Jail Administrator School.
As Chief Deputy, the second in command to the Sheriff, I have experience with running all aspects of a $12-million-dollar office with roughly 150 employees who work under 5 different labor agreements. In addition to participating in the bargaining of those agreements, I have helped negotiate and daily manage multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts for professional services, such as the jail medical-mental health, food & commissary, and telephone-video visitation vendor contracts.
I have fourteen years of management experience in the Sheriff’s Office of which the past 7 years have been spent specifically managing the jail as either Jail Administrator or Chief Deputy. The jail, which is a large component of a Sheriff’s responsibility, involves complex matters that many outside of a sheriff’s office, even former sheriff’s patrol employees, often have little knowledge.
What is a key policy difference between you and your Opponent?
I applaud my opponent for his classroom work attempting to train college students, but I’m proud of my experience and leadership in the field working everyday to keep the citizens of Champaign County safe.
As Sheriff, I will partner with our local police agencies in combating gun violence that is plaguing some Champaign-Urbana neighborhoods by remaining in the Street Crimes Gun Violence Task Force. We will continue to participate in the C-U Fresh Start Initiative as well as the work of the Community Coalition.
I will continue the work that has been done with local hospitals, community health providers, and other non-profits to explore ways to reduce the pervasiveness of those with mental illnesses and/or drug addictions entering the jail. I will explore ways to leverage funding from outside sources to bring about a system of care that will benefit all citizens facing these illnesses or addictions.
Finally, I will work to increase the number of deputies on the streets and corrections staff in the jail to improve safety, training, and managing the increasing requirements placed upon our office via regulations and unfunded mandates from the state legislature and Congress.
Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter in Champaign County?
While serving as Chief Deputy the past four-and-one-half years, I have led the charge implementing body cameras on all patrol deputies, pushed for Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for both patrol deputies and corrections staff, and ensured that all patrol and correctional staff members have access to Narcan, a lifesaving tool to reduce drug overdoses. I have been a Co-Administrator of a Justice Department grant that is assisting our community in finding ways to reduce the prevalence of the mentally ill in jail, to reduce the length of stay for the seriously mentally ill in jail, and to provide alternatives to incarceration for those with mental illness or substance abuse problems. I have also played an integral role as liaison between the Champaign County Board and the Sheriff's Office during this period of county budget uncertainty.
As Sheriff, I won't rest on the laurels of the work that has been done but will continue to focus on the constant pursuit of excellence in service and safety of our staff. I will use my experience and leadership gathered through the years to continue open and vital conversations with the judiciary, the States Attorney's office, and community members.
During the next four years as Sheriff, my top goals are:
1. Work with the elected County Executive and county board to advocate for the closure of the downtown building, the relocation of the sheriff's office headquarters, and the expansion of the satellite jail to accommodate the consolidation of all jail beds into one building. This process does not require we keep the number of jail beds we currently have.
2. Work with the County Board and elected County Executive to replace the jobs lost in Corrections, Court Security and Law Enforcement during the recession of 2007-2009. The Sheriff's Office lost 2 positions each in Corrections & Law Enforcement and all non-sworn Bailiffs in the courthouse.
3. Advocate for competitive wages for our employees in all divisions. The CCSO pay scales do not compete well within the local Champaign-Urbana job market. More specifically, Patrol Division employees who leave indicate they are doing so for higher-paying jobs at places like Champaign, Urbana, and U of I PD.
4. Expansion and Improvement of the current Crisis Intervention Responses within Champaign County. A Co-Responder model that involves community partnerships and services must be developed so that officers have services to refer to when needed by community members in need.