Guest Column: Why we need a new sheriff

Winnebago County is in need of a change in the leadership in our Sheriff’s Department, and you may ask why. It’s quite simple. Nothing has changed in a positive direction for more than 20 years.

The Sheriff’s Department is not proactive in crime fighting, only reactive. Patrol coverage is routinely inadequate for our overall community safety. There are more administrative positions on duty than there are deputies patrolling the county. Overall, the service we get is less of a value than we pay taxes for.

Sure, the sheriff has recently stated publicly that crime is down in the unincorporated areas he oversees. But he doesn’t say if this is because of the large annexations of areas by all of our municipalities in our county. He doesn’t tell us how he plans to help these communities now that they have some of his crime, but he is quick to point the finger at the City of Rockford. He is the sheriff of the entire county, right?

The sheriff has gotten his new, expensive offices with a jail attached. Nepotism and cronyism have cost us, the citizens of Winnebago County, quality police officers to other agencies as well as stifled qualified officers for promotions. This is reflected in the negative perspective the community has for the Sheriff’s Department and the morale of the department.

Have you heard about how criminals refer to our jail as the “jail of choice”? James Kidd does have plans on how the Sheriff’s Department can be more proactive, put more deputies on the road, not in a building. He also wants restrictions on criminals who keep returning for a stay in the “Winnebago Hilton.” Mr. Kidd will also recognize his officers as professionals—not “jailers” or just deputies—both are state-certified corrections officers and police officers.

Mr. Kidd is a police training board-certified corrections officer. Mr. Kidd is a combat-experienced leader in Iraq. He has been active in community organizations helping people. He is involved with community events, interacting with citizens and making a positive impact on the community.

Things need to change in this county—the whole county—not just those select unincorporated areas. That’s why I’m voting for change with James Kidd as our next sheriff of Winnebago County.

Steve Thomas is a resident of Roscoe.

From the Nov. 1-7, 2006, issue

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