"Sheriff Walker is an outstanding law
enforcement professional," Blagojevich said. "He brings a lifetime
of experience that spans from his start as a patrol officer to his
current position as sheriff of Macon County. His priorities are the
same as mine -- to operate and maintain the best, the safest and the
most efficient correctional system in the country. I'm very pleased
the sheriff has agreed to join my administration."
Walker, 54, who will assume his new
post June 1, will lead an agency with more than 13,500 employees and
a budget of $1.3 billion.
A sports enthusiast, Walker likes to
use a baseball analogy to describe his managerial style running the
sheriff's department. "My job is to put the best team on the field
every day," he said. "It's all about dealing with people and getting
them in the right position to cooperate and compromise with each
other for a common goal."
Walker began his law enforcement career
at the Macon County sheriff's office in 1972 as a patrol officer and
moved through the ranks to become a detective, patrol sergeant and a
lieutenant before being elected as sheriff in 1998. He ran unopposed
for re-election in 2002.
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As part of his duties as sheriff,
Walker oversees a county jail that houses about 250 inmates and has
70 correctional officers. The department has a total of about 140
staff and a budget of $9 million.
The governor noted that Walker is
particularly qualified to fill the post at a time when the state is
challenged by an unprecedented budget deficit. Walker had to make
difficult choices and brought new and creative ideas to deal with
his own problems at the county level.
A Decatur native, Walker attended
Eisenhower High School, where he was active in sports, including
track, football and basketball, and he graduated from Richland
Community College with a degree in sociology. During his law
enforcement career, he has received more than 2,000 hours of
supervisory and managerial training. He served in the U.S. Navy from
1967 to 1969.
Walker and his wife, Vergie, who live
in Decatur, are the proud parents of two grown daughters and three
of the Department of Corrections, Walker will be paid $127,600.
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