Meet the Candidates

Geriets for sheriff: positional statement

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[March 05, 2014]  From Michael Geriets, candidate for Logan County sheriff:

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I am a life long Logan County resident, and lifetime republican. I attended Lincoln Public Schools, Mt. Pulaski High School, and graduated Lincoln Community High School. I am a father to four children, Tori and Jackson 7, Christina 18, and Megan 25 who has two children of her own. I am a proud father and grandpa. They have been thrilled to take part in my campaign and will remember this for years to come.

I remember my father testing for the Illinois State Police when I was in the 3rd grade. He was excited to become a police officer. In the late 1960's they had a height & weight requirement and he was a little overweight at his 6'2" stature. He began losing weight to be accepted, when he suddenly became ill, and was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I remember how devastated he was. I knew then from the 3rd grade, I wanted to make him proud and do what he was unable to do. He passed away my senior year of high school. My mother is Bessie Newhouse, married to Ron Newhouse and they reside in Lincoln.

I am an experienced administrator, and a graduate of the FBI National Academy. I feel blessed to have attained a career in law enforcement. I am proud to have served the citizens of Lincoln, the past 25 years. I look forward to the opportunity to extend the same professional service to all of Logan County.

Experience

2008-Present

Deputy Chief Lincoln Police Department

1989-Present

Lincoln Police Department

1984-1989

IL. Department of Corrections

1981-1984

IL. Dept. of Mental Health, Lincoln Developmental Center

Special Assignments/Appointments/Training

  • F.B.I. National Academy

  • Basic SWAT

  • Dept. of Justice, Narcotics Investigations (D.E.A.)

  • IL. State Police, Internal Affairs Investigator Certification

  • Critical Incident Response, Springfield Police Academy

  • Basic Crisis Negotiation

  • Advanced Crisis Negotiations

  • Crisis Intervention Team

  • IL. State Police, Central IL. Enforcement Group-Drug Task Force

  • IL. Dept. of Corrections, Adult Advisory Board (12 years)

  • Vice President, Logan County Emergency Planning Committee

My opponent would like you to believe that electing me is taking a chance, not knowing what you will get.  He was quoted as saying; "the last time someone promised us change, we wound up with Obama and Obamacare".

I have proven myself as an effective administrator currently on my seventh year managing an agency with practically the same annual budget as the Sheriff's Department.  The agency I manage handles twice the amount of activity than that of the Sheriff's Department.

If elected, I will walk into the office of Logan County Sheriff with more years as a police officer, a supervisor, and more years handling a departmental budget, than he did when he walked into that office 11 years ago.

___

What most qualifies you for the position of Sheriff?

I am an experienced administrator of the Lincoln Police Department. I am currently beginning my 7th year as Deputy Chief and have proven myself as being fiscally responsible as an administrator, successfully managing a $1.8 million budget. We handle nearly twice the number of incidents compared to that of the Logan County Sheriff's Department. In 2013 LPD took 1,918 Criminal reports compared to the Sheriff's Department 854. We made 1,161 arrests compared to the Sheriff's Department 602. I currently oversee 25 police officers, and one civilian staff member.

I am currently on my 25th year at the Lincoln Police Department and I have worked my way up through the ranks. I have a keen understanding of all facets of managing a law enforcement agency. I oversee all purchasing, vehicle and equipment maintenance, benefit time used and overtime accrued of all employees, along with workman's compensation issues. I am certified as an internal affairs investigator. I believe in accountability and discipline. I have high expectations of how our police respond, handle calls and treat the citizens of our community.

I am not just reactive when it comes to crime in our community. I am also proactive in the prevention of crime. I believe that being Sheriff should be a transparent position and you should be seen and heard by the community on a regular basis, not just during an election year. I have proven this under the safe schools initiative by training all staff of our schools how to react to a critical incident. I did not just start doing this as a campaign strategy. This is my passion and I believe as an elected official it is our duty and responsibility to be an active member of our emergency preparedness agencies. As Sheriff, I believe you should be at all of the table top, and field exercises preparing our county in the event of a disaster, and not just send other representatives to those meetings who do not have the authority make a decision for the agency. 

I have been a liaison to the community and other agencies within our county, and currently I am serving as Vice President to the Logan County Emergency Planning Committee, preparing our county and emergency service providers what to do in a terroristic, hazardous material, or weather related incident. I have helped train and write policies with the Logan County Health Department on procedures to follow in the event of mass distribution of medicines, or antidotes when required, through the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

What personal or professional finance experience would you bring to the office of the Logan County Sheriff?

I currently manage the Lincoln Police Department with an annual budget of $1.8 million. I have been successful in the management of those budgets set forth by the City of Lincoln, and take pride in the fact that we have been able to stay within the confines of those budgets. I have experience taking part in budget meetings to determine future budget changes based on the economy and needs of our agency. I am always looking for ways to reduce overtime, and ways to be reimbursed through government grants to recoup the costs for equipment replacement. We do not re-issue ballistic vests to new officers, and have been able to consistently attain a 50% reimbursement on all bullet proof vests purchased for new officers through the Department of Justice. I have purchased many items through the sale of seized vehicles, and through drug task force accounts, and was able to replace equipment used in drug investigations.

We were also able to replace a majority of the carpeting in our Department that was previously duct taped together. I was able to do these things by utilizing other sources for funds, for example; By working to lower our workers compensation claims, we have been able to generate safety funds from our insurance carrier that have enabled us to purchase tasers, ballistic equipment, and other safety equipment at no cost to the taxpayers.

What experiences in leadership would you bring to the position?

Understanding the different personality traits of the officers you supervise is essential. I have been to a number of leadership schools, and they all teach about effective communication with different personality traits. When I ask an officer to do something, I may explain different ways depending on whom I'm talking to. No two people are the same. Some require more explanation than others and it has nothing to do with their intelligence, it has everything to do with their personalities.

I also believe in other forms of communication. I must stay in tune with officers and their personal lives. They may have issues at home, whether in their marriage, a death in the family, or someone ill for example. These issues could have a direct effect on the way they handle themselves on duty. When we see so much negativity on the calls we respond to, the last thing you want is an officer that doesn't have his head in the game. His life, his co-workers life, and the citizens of the community depend on him being alert to his surroundings. I love the fact that when there are issues that concern my officers, they come to me. They know I'm approachable, fair, and will give them the best advice that I can. I have been told that when your officers stop coming to you, that's a problem. I take pride in the fact that I have regular conversations with my staff and there is a mutual respect.

When it becomes necessary to counsel, or discipline an employee I have always been professional. I speak to them one on one, privately, and always give them the opportunity to state their side. It's never done in a way to belittle them or cause embarrassment. Everyone makes mistakes and the idea behind any form of discipline is to correct the behavior so that it's documented and does not happen again.

I am confident that the people I supervise are very competent, and capable of handling any call and do not require a micromanager overseeing everything they do.

Their endorsement of me from their police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #208 also shows their confidence in me being the next Sheriff of Logan County.

How do you see the future of law enforcement changing in the next 5 years?

Several issues come to mind regarding the changes we will see. First of all, new laws dealing with concealed carry, and medical marijuana are at the forefront.  I support our 2nd Amendment Rights, and I am supportive of the new concealed carry law. We already know that criminals carry weapons without any lawful authority and will continue to do so. Now, law abiding, licensed and trained citizens have the right to carry. We have yet to see how this will affect our patrol officers on the street when dealing with more firearms. It's not the responsible law abiding citizens I'm worried about. Just like anything else, a few people will surely slip through the cracks that probably shouldn't be carrying a firearm.  The responsibility of carrying a weapon goes further than that just shooting it. It takes common sense and good decision-making skills, especially under pressure. We have sent officers to training classes dealing with the new concealed carry laws because again, one of my main concerns is officer safety.

Another issue will be the new law providing patients medical marijuana. The effects of this are yet to be seen. With other states legalizing possession of marijuana in certain amounts for recreational use, I'm concerned how this will affect the future of law enforcement. The medical marijuana issue has already opened the door to new legislation regarding Driving Under the Influence, and due to marijuana staying in the blood longer, how to determine whether a person is actually under the influence compared to residual amounts from smoking a week ago. We will see a number of court cases in the future challenging decisions made on the road.

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A 21st Century law enforcement agency needs to rely on 21st Century means of communication. We have already embraced the use of technology such as social media. In the past, we would post a surveillance photo of a burglary suspect in the squad room, hoping that an officer may be able to identify the suspect. Most recently the use of Facebook has proved successful by having a departmental Facebook account. When we started this, we were unable to identify a suspect we had from picture of from a surveillance camera, within 30 minutes of being posted on Facebook we had more than 10 posts positively identifying the suspect.  We have been successful in posting information regarding scams, weather, and other public service announcements. These notifications have the potential of reaching thousands within minutes within Logan County.

Last but not least, I see technology changing for police. We are already testing the use of I-Pads in the field for police officers. They are cheaper than the in car, MDC's (Mobile Data Computers) and may prove to be beneficial allowing officers to access police reports from the field.

Would you do anything different from how the office is ran now to meet those changes?

The Sheriff's Department currently does not have a Web Page, nor do they have a Facebook account. I believe as Sheriff, it is our duty and responsibility to utilize tools such as this to communicate and be accessible to the public. I have personally answered many questions from citizens on our Facebook and departmental webpage. There are also links for people to contact the various divisions. Utilizing Facebook and our Departmental Web-page, have proven to be beneficial for our department.

How would you work with other law enforcement departments: would you do anything different in the next four years?

I have an excellent relationship working with other law enforcement agencies in our county. My opponent stated in a recent publication; "Unfortunately personalities sometimes enter into the equation with other agencies in the county". I believe this is unacceptable.  Personality conflicts should never interfere with the goals or operation of the agency you manage. I can honestly say that in 25 years of service and the past 6 years as an administrator, I have never allowed a personality conflict enter into any decision I have made. I have proven myself as a team player with all law-enforcement agencies in our county. These critical relationships with other Chief's of Police in our county are in desperate need of repair.

My opponent says "if it aint broke, don't fix it". I will disagree with him by saying that there are critical communication issues between the Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies. Communication is virtually non-existent with other law enforcement administrators in our county.

I believe that there should be monthly meetings with the Chief's of Police from our surrounding communities, actively sharing information that would be beneficial to all. If elected Sheriff, I will restore these relationships. I believe one way of ensuring communication is; if a Deputy handles a call in a community that has a police department, and an officer was not on duty for that community. The next morning that department should have the police report already faxed to their office, waiting to be reviewed by the officer beginning his duty. For example, a Deputy arrests a male offender for Domestic Battery, and the following day he attends court, posts bond and is released. It's imperative for the officer to know what happened because he may get called for additional problems. The safety of victims and officers handling the call should be priority. There is no active sharing of information at this time.

I have been endorsed by; Lincoln Police Chief Ken Greenslate, Mt. Pulaski Police Chief Lynn Freer, and Atlanta Police Chief Jim Pinney. These community law enforcement leaders have all recognized the serious issues that exist with the current Sheriff's Department administration.

What would be the most challenging issues in the next four years as Sheriff?

Initially I believe the challenge would be to become familiar with the County Board and to gain their trust in me as a qualified and responsible administrator. Another would be to become familiar with current policies, making sure they are up to date and are in compliance with current state laws, and accepted practices. Manpower will be an issue as I believe there should be a minimum staffing level and having only one Deputy on duty for the entire county at times, should never be acceptable. Economics will play a huge part in increasing patrols in the county. I believe that instead of giving money back to the county every year, the taxpayers of the county deserve to be protected and know that staff is available when they are in need.

What is the most significant issue facing law enforcement at the county level?

Drugs. Practically all crimes committed in our county are either directly or indirectly related to drug use. Property crimes such as burglary and thefts occur in many cases due to subjects trying to come up with money to support their habit. We have seen these addictions not only adversely affect the individual suffering from chemical dependency, but it has a negative effect on their families as well, by stealing from their own loved ones. Individuals with drug and alcohol addictions have difficulty maintaining a job and supporting them selves, let alone having to support their habit.

I have worked with drug treatment centers and Mental Health in the past. I want to change the way we treat our arrested offenders waiting trial who are suffering from chemical dependency or mental illness. We see the same names over and over in the newspaper.  We know we have a high rate of recidivism in our jails and prisons. What are we doing to reduce this? What if we were to begin drug treatment or counseling for persons in our jail awaiting trial, especially if it's unlikely that the offender will go to prison. When they are released into our community, they will at least have had a chance to address the issues that caused them to get arrested in the first place. If we do nothing, then they will revert back to same exact behavior that caused their problems to begin with. Some people may say, who cares if they are in jail?  The problem is when they come out, they will be your problem and you may be the next victim of a crime. The Illinois Department of Corrections has addressed this issue and made drug treatment programs available; in many cases this treatment has proven to be successful.

As Sheriff, I will be a voice to be heard on the state level if necessary. If it's policies and procedures of state agencies that prevent this from happening, then we need to change it!

What would you most like to see the same?

If there is a major crime, you will continue to see me utilize resources necessary to properly investigate those crimes. I know that the Beason murder investigation took a toll on the county. Not only for the officers that had to respond to this awful crime, also having taxpayers pay for the defense of the accused when budgets are already tight. It's just another slap in the face. Calling in the Illinois State Police to assist in a major investigation is standard practice for most departments, and was not special during this particular investigation.

I currently work well the Logan County States Attorney. I believe we have a great working relationship and that will continue. I admire him and have the upmost respect for him. That will not change, regardless of his endorsement of my opponent. He and I have discussed this and I'm confident that our great working relationship will continue. 

I know many of the Deputies and respect their abilities to enforce the laws of the state. I look forward to a rewarding, positive working relationship with them.

Is there anything you would like to see change that would improve the department?

  • Monthly meetings with all other law enforcement agencies in the county.

  • Develop a webpage, and Facebook account to be accessible to the public.

  • Increase officer safety by purchasing tasers, training Deputies in the use of them, while developing strict guidelines for their use.

  • Ensure that all patrol vehicles have a functioning video camera installed.

  • Teach all schools in the county under the safe school initiative, how to react to a violent or critical incident.

  • Teach all major businesses in the county how to react to violent/critical incidents.

  • Reduce high turnover rate of employees by outlining clear hiring practices, with a board or commission oversight.

  • Assign a Deputy to the IL. State Police drug task force, to develop cases in Logan County.

  • Have Deputies trained and assigned to ILEAS (IL. Law Enforcement Alarm System) Mobile Field Force Team. They will assist us in need of additional personnel, and we would send help when other communities are in need. (Note: any overtime for call out or training is reimbursed by ILEAS) 

Our Sheriff approached the County Board more than three years ago and asked for his annual salary percentage increases to be uploaded in advance, because he was going to retire. This request was for no other reason than to provide him with increased pension benefits. The County Board approved that request. Now he has decided that he would like another four years. As a taxpayer, are you okay with that?

Furthermore, he came to my office more than four years ago and asked if I was running against him in that election. I told him I was not, however I was running in this one. He told me that he was going to retire and that he had no reason, not to support me. In November of 2013 I went to his office and asked for his support prior to my announcement. He told me that he would be running for another term. I was disappointed to say the least.

My endorsements are not from Sheriff's of other communities, or politicians working in Washington D.C., they are from current local leaders who recognize my skills, abilities and a need for a change from our current Sheriff.

I am thankful to the endorsements from the following people or organizations;

  • Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder

  • Atlanta Mayor Fred Finchum

  • Mt. Pulaski Mayor Jim Fuher

  • Lincoln Police Chief Ken Greenslate

  • Atlanta Police Chief Jim Pinney

  • Mt. Pulaski Police Chief Lynn Freer

  • Clinton Police Chief Ben Lowers

  • Lincoln Fire Chief Mark Miller

  • Lincoln Rural Fire Chief Chad Letterle

  • Mt. Pulaski Rural Fire Trustee Rick Voley

  • Logan County Board Members; Patrick O'Neill, Andy Anderson

  • Lincoln City Councilman; Mel Anderson, Dave Wilmert (ret)

  • Lincoln Police Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #208

  • Central IL. Association Law Enforcement Executives

  • Citizens for Justice, Les VanBibber

  • Tom Rowland, Logan County Housing Authority 

I ask the voters of this county to exercise your right vote on March 18th. It's time for fresh new perspectives, and new ideas. It's time to move forward with technology and embrace the changes in our technical society. I will be an accessible, pro-active Sheriff, visible in the county making drug crimes, crime prevention, education, and the safety of our schools, children and businesses a priority. Critical working relationships with other law enforcement agencies in our county will immediately be restored. I'm asking for your vote on March 18th. When experience, dedication and professionalism matter, elect Michael Geriets for Logan County Sheriff.

[Text copied from file received]

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