Changes Still Needed at Sangamon County Jail

Illinois Times (10/16/14)

Jeff Regan, Democratic candidate for sheriff, favors body cameras and emergency medical technician training for guards. Wes Barr, the Republican candidate, did not respond to interview requests

Jeff Regan, Democratic candidate for sheriff, favors body cameras and emergency medical technician training for guards. Wes Barr, the Republican candidate, did not respond to interview requests.  Sheriff’s officials still insist that jailers did nothing wrong. But that doesn’t mean changes haven’t been made in hopes of preventing future lawsuits.

The sheriff’s office has increased the number of surveillance cameras in the jail from 125 when Carlock died to 153 today, and all of the cameras record regardless of whether someone presses a button, says undersheriff Jack Campbell. Today, any use of force captured by a camera would be saved, Campbell says. Emails that were once automatically deleted after six months are now retained for years as a matter of course, he said.

“We’re doing it to exonerate ourselves,” Campbell said. “I think the biggest thing we learned from this was, something that we deleted could be interpreted as a smoking gun. Retain them all, and we don’t have to go through this.”

An internal affairs investigator handled the Carlock death investigation, but detectives now are assigned to investigate all jail deaths, Campbell said. Springfield police will investigate any death involving the use of force, he added.

“We’re going to involve detectives in any kind of death in the jail,” Campbell said. “A detective has a different mindset than someone doing an internal affairs investigation.”

The county has also beefed up medical care in the jail, Campbell says. At the time of Carlock’s death, mental health care was provided for eight hours per week in the jail; it’s now available 24 hours a week. The jail contracts with different physicians, and nurses are no longer county employees, which Campbell says should reduce the county’s liability in case of lawsuits alleging poor health care. Since Carlock died, there has been a significant increase in the number of inmates who are taken out of the jail to receive care at hospitals, from 70 trips in 2007 to 133 last year. Campbell could not explain the trend.

Wes Barr, the Republican candidate for sheriff, did not respond to interview requests, but Jeff Regan, the Democratic candidate, suggested that guards be trained as emergency medical technicians. He also said guards should wear body cameras.

Campbell points out that there is a fire station less than a block from the jail and says guards already have enough to do without having to take the time to undergo EMT training, which would cost money. He said that he favors body cameras for guards, but cautions that the county needs to figure out how to pay for them and use them in ways that won’t raise privacy concerns.

“We’re not afraid of it, but we need to know more about it,” Campbell said.

But getting sued remains part of the job. Since Andreatta-Carlock sued, at least 25 lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs who allege wrongdoing at the jail, most recently in August, when Chicago attorney James Murphy-Aguilu filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of Lance S. Jones, who died of a heart attack in the jail last year. In the lawsuit, Murphy-Aguilu says that Jones died shortly after a physician at St. John’s Hospital sent him back to jail with antacids after he had complained of chest pains.

“The county can say all they want that they can throw (liability) back on doctors,” Murphy-Aguilu says. “At the end of the day, they’re the ones who are liable. … The sheriff is in charge of the jail.”

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

Scheduling Conflicts

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How busy could a retired cop be? Apparently pretty busy, if you are Wes Barr, the Republican candidate for Sangamon County sheriff. Barr, the odds-on favorite to win in November who retired from the department last year, says that he won’t debate Democratic challenger Jeff Regan at an Oct. 19 town hall meeting sponsored by WICS television. Invitations went out in July and Regan, a retired state police officer, accepted. Getting Barr on board proved more complicated. A meeting in September between station management, Barr’s campaign manager and Regan resulted in no commitment from Barr’s side. Afterward, Regan issued a press release criticizing Barr for playing hard to get. “It’s disappointing that my opponent is so unsure about taking this opportunity to let voters compare their options and make an informed choice,” Regan said. “The people of Sangamon County deserve a sheriff who shows up to answer tough questions and doesn’t play games about engaging in public debate.” That did it, so far as Barr was concerned. In an Oct. 1 press release issued one week later, Steve Schoeffel, a political consultant who is working for Barr, cried foul and blasted Regan for issuing the release. “We were shocked Wes’ opponent would choose to poison in this manner a process that seemed to be moving forward,” wrote Schoeffel, who said the would-be sheriff had a “schedule conflict” that prevented his attendance at the proposed debate. “In light of Wes’ opponent’s decision to attack and grandstand this week, it is clear a civil discussion of the issues is not his goal.” And so Barr won’t debate. Too bad. If this debate-ducking would-be sheriff can’t make room in his schedule for a debate that’s been more than two months in the making, lord knows how he’ll find time to run a jail and solve crimes.

Source: IllinoisTimes.com (10/9/14)

Regan to add female to detective bureau

Sang. Co. Sheriff contender will add a female detective to investigate sex crimes

Press Release: October 7, 2014

SPRINGFIELD —The addition of trained specialized personnel is another key point of the “Four Star Plan” Jeff Regan, candidate for Sangamon County Sheriff, has unveiled to the public. As sheriff, Regan will assign an additional female detective to investigate sexual crimes against children and violence against women.

“Here in Sangamon County, a child is sexually abused or a woman becomes a victim of physical violence more than once a week on average,” Regan explained. “People tell us that many women and children who have been victims of crime will feel more comfortable talking with a female detective.”

“More than 80 of these horrifying crimes occur each year in areas of Sangamon County under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction,” Regan said. “These are heart wrenching crimes. I know, because I’ve investigated many of them in my law enforcement career. Victims must be questioned with sensitivity and compassion.”

The female investigator would be added to a detective staff of 10 that now includes just one woman detective. Regan said he wants his detective staff to include investigators highly trained as specialists in certain types of crimes such as murder and drug trafficking, as well as sexual abuse and violence against women.

Regan’s full “Four Star Plan:”

  1. Dashboard and body cameras for all vehicles and staff in the Sheriff’s Department
  2. Diversity in recruiting and specialized criminal investigation
  3. Re-engineer the department, cutting $1 million of overtime while redeploying four detectives onto county highways to investigate crime
  4. Intensive health care training for jail staff so they can recognize physical and mental health conditions, avoiding costly lawsuits

“My plan to re-engineer the Sheriff’s Department follows a management strategy that starts with successes and adapts to change,” Regan said. “Apple and NASA use this management plan. There are positive programs in the Sheriff’s Department we can use as a foundation as we build a modern, professional, 21st-century law enforcement agency.”

A video report on Jeff Regan’s Four-Star Plan is available on his campaign web site, www.JeffReganForSheriff.com, and on You Tube.

Sheriff department’s MRAP could get a new look (SJ-R.COM, Oct. 4, 2014)

MRAP

The surplus military vehicle now owned by the county that’s become an issue in the race for Sangamon County sheriff could soon have a new coat of paint and police lighting.
As might be expected, JEFF REGAN, the Democratic candidate for sheriff, thinks any such enhancement should wait until after the Nov. 4 election, given that he has promised that, if elected, he would return the MRAP, or mine resistant ambush protected vehicle. He said it’s too difficult to operate, too costly to maintain, could harm local roads and represents too much “militarization” of the department.
Republican candidate WES BARR wants the county to keep the vehicle. But he said any upgrade now is up to the administration of Sheriff NEIL WILLIAMSON, who is not running for re-election. If he is elected, Barr said he would want to see the cost before adding the paint and lights.
The vehicle was deployed to a mobile home park near Riverton in July when a 50-year-old man barricaded himself in a trailer. The man surrendered.
Undersheriff JACK CAMPBELL said the department is awaiting clearance on a price from the Army National Guard at Camp Lincoln to change the vehicle’s color from desert brown to black. Campbell said his department also plans to equip the vehicle with police lights and floodlights, and if there is equipment already on hand, it will be used.
Campbell, who lost to Barr in the GOP primary and now supports his candidacy, said he sees no need to wait.
“We are making plans to address problems that could happen tomorrow, could happen next year, irregardless of who the sheriff is,” Campbell said. “We have a mission to protect the people of this county and to protect our employees.”
Upgrade funds would come from seizures from drug dealers, Campbell said, because the vehicle can be used to fight drug trafficking.
Regan said — and Campbell confirmed — that a different armored vehicle was initially dispatched to that Riverton barricade scene but broke down on the way. Campbell said a plugged fuel filter, now fixed, halted the 1991 former Brink’s truck on Clear Lake Avenue in Springfield. Campbell also said that within the past 60 or 90 days, the department transferred to the Bartonville Police Department a “light armored vehicle,” which he said “looks like a tank” but was smaller and so could carry fewer people than the MRAP.
Meanwhile, negotiations broke down last week for a Barr-Regan town hall meeting that would have been broadcast on WICS-TV Channel 20 and WMAY-AM 970.
Regan issued a news release Sept. 24 saying Barr wanted more time to decide on a date following discussions since July, and people deserve a sheriff who “doesn’t play games.”
The Barr campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying discussion had been ongoing, and because of Regan’s decision to “attack and grandstand,” Barr would not participate in the broadcast town hall but would continue to talk with media and people of the county.

Regan called Barr’s decision “unfortunate” and said he will “continue to answer tough questions from any member of the public.”

Bernard Schoenburg

More at: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141004/OPINION/141009780/10608/OPINION/

Major local media, voters still waiting on Wes Barr

Barr still considering whether he’s open to public scrutiny at Oct. 19 forum

WBpicSPRINGFIELD — After keeping major local media waiting for months, candidate Wes Barr wants another week to decide whether he’ll answer questions about his run for Sangamon County Sheriff. On July 22, WICS Channel 20 and several local radio stations invited him and candidate Jeff Regan to an October forum. More than two months later, Barr still isn’t sure he wants to open himself up to questions from the press and public. A member of Barr’s campaign staff has indicated the candidate will finally give the station an answer — by next week.

“When it cphoto4omes to public safety in Sangamon County, voters have some serious issues on their minds — from getting cameras on patrol cars and uniforms, to sexual crimes against children and women, to avoiding costly lawsuits at the jail,” Regan said. “It’s disappointing that my opponent is so unsure about taking this opportunity to let voters compare their options and make an informed choice.”

Regan, a retired State Police lieutenant who has served his country in the National Guard and his community in the Red Cross, has committed to attending the forum on Oct. 19 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the State Journal-Register Auditorium.

“I welcome all opportunities to discuss my qualifications for sheriff and my plan to build on the department’s successes and adapt them for the future,” Regan said. “When WICS contacted me, I immediately checked my schedule and confirmed my attendance. The people of Sangamon County deserve a sheriff who shows up to answer tough questions and doesn’t play games about engaging in public debate.”