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Sheriff's candidates differ on chief deputy : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Sheriff's candidates differ on chief deputy
Baird would replace deputy; Eaves, Christiansen would retain him

by Matt Schury


Voters know at least one change that will be coming if Oswego Police Chief Dwight Baird is elected Kendall County Sheriff this fall.

Baird, a candidate in next Tuesday's Republican Party primary, told the audience during a candidate's forum last week that if elected he would replace Chief Deputy Scott Koster as second-in-command at the Kendall Sheriff's office.

The other Republican candidates in the GOP primary Plano Police Chief Steve Eaves and Jeff Christiansen a DuPage County Sheriff's Deputy who lives in Oswego, said they would keep Koster as chief deputy and praised him for the job he is doing in the position.

Koster replaced former Chief Deputy Terry Tichava who retired in 2010 following a series of lawsuit settlements by the Kendall County Board.

Baird told the audience he would bring in former Yorkville Police Chief Harold Martin to be his chief deputy citing Martin's experience as Yorkville's chief of police for nine years. Baird also said that he and Martin also believe in the importance of community policing.

"We are alike but we do disagree on some things and I do think that fosters growth and would mean a better product and better law enforcement service for the county," Baird said.

Eaves said that he has met with Koster and finds that he is a professional and thought he is doing a good job.

"I think he does a very professional job and I would definitely keep him in as chief deputy," Koster said. "I have no reason to replace him.

Christiansen mentioned that when he taught classes at Aurora University and brought Koster in to work with his students on some projects.

"I'm really impressed with his integrity and professionalism and his willingness to move things forward," Christiansen said.

When asked about making other changes to staffing at the office, all candidates said they would have to first do an analysis before they make any changes.

Christiansen added that there that "could be some reallocation of resources at the office" and said that he would develop a 30 day plan to address any changes.

Eaves said that he has studied the budgets and staffing levels for three years and said that he found the sheriff's office to be "a little top heavy."

"I think we need to get more people on the street and if it means a commander goes out and covers a jurisdiction for the day, that's what's going to happen," he said.

Eaves added that he would look for better ways to allocate personnel at higher levels.

Baird responded that he would do an analysis of the calls and allocate the office's resources accordingly.

"I want to get in there and get the input of the men and women that work there," he said.

He added that he works closely with the sheriff's office and helps them with issues that arise at the Boulder Hill subdivision in unincorporated Kendall County.

The candidates were also asked about how they run their current departments.

Baird responded that when he became police chief in Oswego his office achieved national accreditation.

"There's only three percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide that have achieved that," he said. "If you have good policies and you change your officers to follow them, it minimizes liability."

Christiansen said that a few years ago he worked in the DuPage County Sheriff's community resources unit and developed a program to track missing persons and at-risk residents.

"The deputies would meet with the families and we would register people with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, special needs-get all of their information in a database and when the officers respond to a call we are able to dispatch all that information," he said.

While he was chief at Plano, Eaves said that he was responsible for 16 to 18 grants for equipment, personnel and technology.

"We are not an accredited department, we did look into that about 10 to 15 years ago and it cost about $30,000, so I bought a squad car instead," Eaves said, adding that they have tried to adopt most of the accreditation standards anyway.

When the candidates were asked to distinguish themselves from their opponents, Baird responded that he has run the largest municipal police department in the county and has worked at the Kendall County Sheriff's office.

He also said that he is the only candidate that is certified by the Illinois Association Chiefs of Police and has been to the FBI National Academy on leadership and management.

Christiansen said that he is the only candidate that works in a sheriff's office currently and has worked in all divisions of that office.

"I'm really the only candidate that has a really diverse background at a sheriff's office and understands how a sheriff's office functions day to day and how different it is from a municipality or city or village," he said.

Eaves mentioned that he has been the Chief of Police in Plano for 25 years.

"That's a lot of council meetings, that's a lot of budgets, that's a lot of project review board meetings, that's a lot of controversy, that's a lot of community interaction," he said.

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