BLOOMINGTON — McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage is seeking a second term to continue a list of priorities that includes better services for mentally ill inmates, increased drug enforcement and keeping the jail population under control.
"When running for office, I promised the voters I would continue to work to control the jail population and better serve those with mental illness. I promised to increase drug enforcement efforts and I promised to increase the technological capabilities of the sheriff's office. I am proud to say that we have delivered on these promises but there is more work to do and I ask for your vote to continue to serve," Sandage said in a statement.
Sandage, a Republican, succeeded Sheriff Mike Emery, who retired in 2014. Sandage said he plans to move forward with the county's efforts to improve services to mentally ill inmates currently housed in the jail's booking area where they can be monitored away from the general population.
The groundbreaking in April for an expansion to the jail that will include a unit for mentally ill inmates and the employment in 2016 of a full-time counselor "will help us better address the needs of mentally ill inmates," Sandage said Thursday.
Cooperation between the sheriff's office and others in the criminal justice system has kept the county from paying to house inmates in other counties. A practice initiated under the previous administration to closely monitor the jail census is still working, said the sheriff.
"With the help of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and looking at the people we have in jail and why they are there, we've been able to control the population, for the most part," said Sandage.
The assignment of a full-time officer to the county's criminal investigations unit and the addition of a second K-9 unit secured through a $60,000 grant contributed to a 54 percent increase in drug arrests last year, he said. Reductions of 36 percent in property crime reports and traffic fatalities "was accomplished by the hard work of our deputies and investigators and their proactive enforcement efforts," said Sandage.
Equipment upgrades were made with a $871,000 grant that was used to replace an aging radio system and repeaters used at the department, said Sandage, adding the threat of financial scams against elderly residents was the focus of training obtained by a sheriff's officer who also handles domestic violence cases.
The primary election is in March 2018 with the general election following in November. No other candidate has publicly announced for the office.