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‘Create a culture of collaboration’

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST
John C. Simonton

As a way of introduction, I want to outline the training and experience I have had over my 31-year law enforcement career, which I will bring to the office of Lee County sheriff if I am elected.

My passion for the field of law enforcement led me to attend two law enforcement academies and log more than 3,000 hours of intensive training. This training prepared me to hold positions with the Dixon Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois State Police.

Over my career, I have been certified as a law enforcement officer; commander of the Illinois State Police, Special Operations Division; and instructor in Field Training, Basic and Advanced SWAT operations, Critical Incident Management, Active Shooter Response, Physical Fitness, and Emergency Vehicle Operations.

I have been engaged in more than 1,500 high-risk missions. I have also been employed as an adviser and exercise evaluator for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The world we live in today requires law enforcement agencies to be ready to handle crimes that are becoming more complex and dangerous. We must have the right tools and technology for our officers to be able to quickly and effectively execute law enforcement actions that are done legally and with the correct amount of force while keeping the safety of the public always as the top priority.

Throughout my 31 years of experience as a leader and supervisor, I know this can be done in a variety of ways. I will initiate collaborative training with Lee County area law enforcement agencies (which is currently not being done).

Deputies will train through the Mobile Training Unit that includes intra-department training by current certified instructors.

Through outreach efforts, we will form neighborhood watch communities to get the public involved with reporting suspicious activity. The sheriff’s department will utilize “directed patrol techniques” in areas where there are a high number of calls of criminal activity.

Finally, we will participate in diversionary programs, such as the Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Court, which will provide an alternative for defendants who hope to reform their lives.

A qualified executive-level police officer, such as a sheriff, needs to know how to make critical decisions in emergency situations. These decisions should be based upon clearly communicated policies and procedures and followed up with “after action” reporting and debriefs (which is not being done now).

Through this well-defined process, lessons are learned and are incorporated into officer scenario-based training. Our current sheriff does not have the training or the expertise to execute these procedures.

As the Lee County sheriff, I will bring a lifetime of experience that I believe will create a culture of collaboration and cooperation among all public safety agencies across Lee County and beyond.

Personal note: As previously publicized, if elected, I have decided to decline the pension normally offered to the sheriff. I believe that most people feel elected officials should not make politics a career or receive a public pension.

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