To the editor:
The upcoming sheriff's election initially put me in a quandary. I
am a personal friend of both candidates. I have worked extensively
with both of them over many years. I can confidently say that I
probably know their abilities as police officers as well as anyone
in the business. Both have strong personalities, a virtue in any
When you look at the comparison between the two candidates, it is
a no-brainer on who has the most law enforcement experience,
education, leadership skills and significant accomplishments.
Sheriff Nichols has 35 years of investigative and law enforcement
experience. Deputy Chief Geriets touts the 11-week FBI National
Academy as a pinnacle of his law enforcement education. While it is
a very prestigious school, it in no way trumps Sheriff Nichols'
four-year law enforcement degree from Western Illinois University,
Illinois State Police Academy, ISP Criminal Investigation Academy,
South Dakota State Police Academy and the myriad number of courses
since becoming sheriff.
As a part of the Gee Homicide Task Force, I worked alongside
Sheriff Nichols and the Illinois State Police, on a daily basis, to
identify and arrest the Harris brothers for one of the most heinous
crimes I witnessed in over 31 years.
Deputy Chief Geriets stated that "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
While I am not sure what "not special" means, it was crucial to
have an experienced leader who paid attention to every detail. The
sheriff managed the investigation, personally directed multiple
search warrants, attended numerous evidentiary conferences with the
Illinois State Police Crime Lab, dealt with victims' families,
arranged for blanket security in Beason, addressed the public and
the media, consulted with then Assistant State's Attorney and
current State's Attorney Jonathan Wright and the Illinois attorney
general prosecutors, and responded to leads from all over the
country via a "tip line."
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I was there. It was downright impressive to me. Sheriff Nichols
brought the right agencies to the task force and provided the
leadership and direction that culminated in the arrests. The Gee
Task Force was the largest, most organized and directed task force
ever organized in central Illinois and is now a model for all law
Between the time of the murders and the arrest of the Harris
brothers, Logan County citizens were afraid for their safety. The
countless hours worked by Sheriff Nichols and the task force brought
a huge sigh of relief and trust in the Gee Task Force and Sheriff
I believe that all Logan County citizens should ask themselves if
they feel safer in their homes with the knowledge that Steve Nichols
is the sheriff of Logan County. Sheriff Nichols provides the
leadership and experience you can trust.
Deputy Chief Geriets in his campaign literature says that "change
is good." Deputy Chief Geriets is my friend and could make a good
sheriff sometime down the road. To "change" for the sake of "change"
makes no sense to me. It seems to me that there should be a reason
Sheriff Nichols has earned your trust and support over the past
11 1/2 years. He has done nothing detrimental to running the office
of sheriff of Logan County. He leads the sheriff's office by his
example and has been true to his oath of office. Sheriff Nichols
deserves another term as your sheriff. I ask you to join me on March
18th to re-elect Sheriff Steve Nichols.
Retired from Illinois State Police
Lincoln Chief of Police 2007-2010
March 15, 2014]
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