Burglaries On The Rise

Burglaries are on the rise in Edgar County! But did you know that they are not always getting investigated promptly?

There are a couple reasons for this. First of all, the response times are almost never the Deputies’ fault. If they’re on other calls or working an accident, they simply can’t get there right away.

This is especially true on nights when only one Deputy is on duty, which happens more than you know. This is simply unacceptable.

There have also been occasions where Deputies have had to drive substandard vehicles across the county on calls. This still happens, and it’s also unacceptable.

Now, the way it works is that you have to prioritize calls. If the call is an active alarm, burglary in progress, or home invasion, then that call jumps to the top of the list, because people are in immediate danger.

Taking a theft or burglary report would be a somewhat lower priority, but it should get done as promptly as possible. Information gained can help identify the criminal, patterns to the crimes, and other details that can help you solve not only that crime, but others as well.

But there’s another problem. Edgar County has not had a Detective for quite some time now. To me, this reflects a lack of priority and attention to this troubling rise in burglaries. I’ve talked about this before, too.

Having a policy where deputies have to investigate their own cases is ridiculous. Not that they’re not capable, because of course they are. But it’s impossible for them to work the road, answer all the calls and then follow up on each and every burglary.

As a result, some crimes just get shoved down the stack. Some don’t get investigated at all. Response times are an hour or more. Maybe days. Maybe never.

It also massively drives up the overtime. It’s come to my attention that one Deputy alone has recently worked 60 hours overtime in just two weeks! And this is becoming normal.

We could pay for a full-time Detective just from the overtime alone being generated by this ridiculous policy. It wouldn’t cost the taxpayers any more money. Proper follow up by a detective will result in more information that will solve more crimes.

The rest of my strategy includes intentionally increasing patrol in areas known to have criminal activity. Just being seen is a huge deterrent to criminals. Plus, if you see a suspicious vehicle in a known crime area, you can make an investigative stop.

I would establish and promote an effective Crime Stopper Tip Line and we would follow up on the tips. I would also work more closely with adjacent counties because much of this crime is crossing county lines.

Finally, having an off-duty Deputy “stake out” known high crime areas at limited, selected times, would also give us a chance to catch criminals “in the act.” At the very least, it could make the response times much faster.

This would be a much more productive use of some of that overtime. If you use a part-time Deputy, it’s even less expensive. But it takes a real commitment to addressing the issue.

As a working Sheriff, I will take these problems very seriously, and do everything I can to fix them. It won’t break the budget. And we can get things done.

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff

Courthouse Security

Did you know that the Sheriff’s Courthouse Security Officer resigned recently? Let me tell you why.

Some time ago, an individual pretending to be a federal officer came to the Edgar County jail asking for “help” arresting some local officials. He was arrested himself, and is still awaiting trial.

This guy had an extensive target list. Some of those people are at the Edgar County Courthouse, so the Sheriff hired and deputized a well respected, retired officer to provide courthouse security.

But when this officer pressed the Sheriff to make needed changes, no changes were made. When the officer asked the Sheriff to provide the County ordinances on which they were basing their security, none were provided.

In his resignation letter, the officer stated that he was “starting into the third month and still waiting for changes.” He continued, “There’s been talk of what to do and changes that could be done, but very little action.”

What’s worse, he said that when he asked for the legal basis on which he was to provide security, he was told to “just fake it.” Seriously? Just fake it? In law enforcement, you don’t fake it. You enforce the laws! No wonder he quit.

I had to go up to the Vermilion County courthouse recently for a DUI case, and the security was significant. One entrance, with a metal detector, and armed security.

My understanding is that we have our own metal detector just sitting in the basement of our own courthouse. Why aren’t they using it? Does it work? Has it been tested?

You have my promise that as a working Sheriff, I will do everything I can to help secure the courthouse. I’ll visit surrounding counties to see what best practices they are following.

I’ll work hard to make things safer. I will take action. And I won’t ever tell anyone to “just fake it.”

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff

Communication Matters

When you make a 911 call, you expect things to happen, quickly. But sometimes, there’s a glitch in the system. Case in point, the F1 radio system that the Edgar County Sheriff Department had been “trying out.”

Originally, the ECSD was on a system that allowed them to communicate with other agencies, like Paris Police, Paris Fire, and ISPERN, the state wide system. This was crucial, because when you’re on a scene, you often need to talk to other agencies, especially when things are really bad. Sometimes you need to do this on your portable, when you’re out of the car. During this “test period” they couldn’t do it at all!

For some reason, ECSD deliberately chose to isolate themselves from other agencies. I’ve been told it was an attempt to solve a reception problem in the Kansas area, and to be fair, it seemed to have improved things there. But that’s kind of like taking a ball bat to a mosquito.

You don’t change a whole system, just to fix one small problem. Instead, you put a repeater in the Kansas car, or place one up high on their water tower. That’s what experts tell me. So Deputies and other officers often couldn’t be heard on traffic stops and other calls.

The ECSD policy was unclear, even to the Deputies, and other agencies. They weren’t even given a memo. But Deputies and Officers were openly being discouraged from using the old frequency in their car. Sometimes, they weren’t even being answered by dispatch. I personally heard this with my own ears.

It was wrong and unfair to ask dispatch to monitor and use two separate systems. But it was more than unfair to the officer. It was downright dangerous, which leads me to the other communication problem.

I’ve been fortunate to have a chance to work with other departments up in Vermilion County, and was stunned at the amount of radio traffic they have up there. It’s often so busy, sometimes I have to pick my moment when to speak on the radio.

Yet they’re always brief, concise, and above all, professional. And when I speak, everyone can hear me, from the County to all the different municipalities. That’s how it needs to be.

I think it comes down to training and expectations. I’m in possession of a resignation letter from a former 911 dispatcher for Edgar County. He noted the lack of “poor training and lack of work related communication among employees” as his sole reason for resigning.

We have good people, yet we’re not really training and supervising them, or setting high professional expectations. This is wrong, and it has to stop.

The Sheriff made the decision to switch to a radio that couldn’t communicate with other agencies (or even their own cars). He is also responsible for implementing proper dispatch policies and procedures, and properly supervising his team.

As a working Sheriff, I will ensure we have a single, effective communication system so everyone is safer, including the officers. I’ll also implement training standards and expectations that rival the “big city” departments. Excellence is a choice. Safety isn’t.

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff

We Need A Detective

Did you know that the Edgar County Sheriff Department doesn’t have an actual Detective? They haven’t had one for quite some time.

Edgar County used to have two detectives on the roster. Now they don’t even have one. The current policy is to have the Deputies investigate their own crimes.

This is bad policy for a number of reasons. It’s not that the road Deputies aren’t capable, because they certainly are. But often, the Deputy is the only one on duty, and responsible for answering other calls, like domestics, or active alarms.

So the burglary or follow up drug investigation gets pushed to the back burner. Then they have to stay over to investigate, or turn it over to the next Deputy, who in turn has to answer their own calls. This drives the overtime up, and makes productivity suffer.

Check with any other Sheriff’s department. It’s standard to have at least one Detective. When a crime occurs, a Deputy will take the initial report, and turn it over to a Detective, who follows up, investigates, and puts a case together. But ECSD doesn’t have one.

The detective should also work more closely with other jurisdictions. Criminals and drug dealers cross county lines all the time. Case in point, a recent individual with active warrants for burglary eluded officers in the Kansas area.

You may recall I wrote about this case last week. According to the Prairie Press: “Wood estimated it took the sheriff’s department approximately an hour to reach the scene.”

In this case, the suspect got away and was ultimately picked up in Indiana. Fortunately, he made a mistake and was caught, but it illustrates how the bad guys work across not only the county line, but the state line, too.

Edgar County used to participate in a multi jurisdictional task force. We even had our own county wide drug task force, but that was eight years ago! Don’t you think it’s time we get back to it?

We CAN make a difference if we work smarter, which means we need a full time, dedicated Detective. The ECSD also needs to work much more closely with other agencies to track the activities of known burglars and drug dealers.

I will be a working Sheriff, too, and I’ll do everything I can, daily, to make this happen quickly and efficiently. You have my word on it.

The DUI That Got Away

Did you know that the Edgar County Sheriff Department often has just one Deputy on duty? On one recent Sunday afternoon, this resulted in a lack of coverage, and a likely DUI that got away.

That Sunday, I was traveling Northbound on Route 1 on my way home from a church potluck dinner, when I observed a vehicle in front of me driving erratically. At the very least, they were extremely distracted.

I watched them ride the right line, and then drift all the way over to the center line, remaining there for an extended period of time, even with oncoming traffic. While calling the ECSD, I observed the vehicle do it again, this time crossing the center line, into oncoming traffic.

I informed ECSD that I was an off duty police officer, and described what I saw. I gave them the vehicle description, direction of travel, and asked if there was a Deputy up North that could stop the vehicle.

The dispatcher apologized, saying there was only one Deputy on duty, and that he was tied up on a serious accident elsewhere. I said I understood, and suggested they let Vermilion Co. know the vehicle was Northbound.

Please understand, I know the Deputy was needed elsewhere. It was a very serious call. But do you really think one road Deputy is enough, on a Sunday afternoon, in the Summer, with high traffic? Or on a Wednesday night, as has happened recently? I don’t think so.

In one recent manhunt, and the Sheriff’s own words, as reported in the July 21 issue of the Prairie Press: “I and the deputy on duty were on the other side of the county.” The Prairie Press continues: “Wood estimated it took the sheriff’s department approximately an hour to reach the scene.”

This is unacceptable. You’re going to have multiple calls. It’s to be expected. The ECSD should have at least two Deputies on, to cover each end of the county, and to back each other up when needed.

We need a larger part-time roster, to ensure that Deputies aren’t working alone. We need to rebuild the Auxiliary Deputy program to get some help with traffic control, searches, and other emergencies.

I will be a working Sheriff. I’ll come in and cover calls when needed, regardless of the shift. I’ll be available 24-7 to work a shift when we’re short. I’ll also be working extra patrol frequently, to back the other deputies up, and help keep us all safer. You have my word on it.