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Committee clarifies rules of Grundy County Sheriff's Office

Although the Grundy County Board’s Rules Committee does not have much of a say over it, members wanted clarification on some of the rules of the new Grundy County Sheriff’s Office Merit Commission.

The Rules Committee met Tuesday to go over the Merit Commission’s rules and regulations.

It approved placing them on file with the County Board. The commission was created to assist the sheriff with hiring.

It will handle the testing for potential deputies and give the sheriff a ranking list. The commission will also handle promotions.

Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland and his assistant attorney Perry Rudman explained to the committee it could ask questions of the commission, but the committee and the County Board have no authority over the commission outside of creating it and funding it.

“This is a FYI,” Rudman said.

Two members of the five- member commission were present, in addition to several members of the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office.

No one from the public spoke at the meeting.

The main point of discussion was regarding the commission’s classification of ranks.

It states the chief deputy and jail superintendent positions are to be directly selected by the sheriff, not the Merit Commission. If those positions are terminated, the rules state the officer may resume the position previously held under the commission’s authority.

It continues that the sheriff’s position, if appointed from the ranks of tenured personnel, is considered an assignment.

When this person is removed from the assignment of sheriff, they can revert back to their previous tenured position and rank.

What this means for current Sheriff Kevin Callahan is if he loses the next election, he would return to his rank of sergeant with the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office.

Callahan went from a sergeant in investigations to chief deputy when the late Sheriff Terry Marketti’s was appointed to sheriff when Sheriff James Olson died. Callahan was then appointed to finish Marketti’s term as sheriff when he died.

If he loses the election, Callahan will return to sergeant since the new sheriff would choose his own chief deputy.

Callahan is running as a Democrat to keep his appointed position as sheriff after the end of Marketti’s term.

Republican candidates Ken Briley of Minooka and Ronald Marx of Morris are running in the primary election to face off against Callahan.

Committee chairman Eric Rasmussen asked for clarification on the provision.

Helland said he spoke with an attorney for the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the provision regarding an appointed sheriff’s position is consistent with about a dozen other counties in the state.

Rudman said he looked at five or six sets of rules from other commissions that have an even broader rule, some stating an elected sheriff, not just an appointed sheriff, who loses the election can return to their previous position.

“With this specific situation [Callahan] was appointed. He had already been serving the county 30 years and he was concerned if he lost the election he would have to go find a job some place else,” Rudman said. “It’s customary in a lot of counties.”

Rasmusson asked Callahan how he thought things would run if he lost the election.

“If you didn’t win, is that going to create a problem?” he asked.

Callahan said he chose to run for the election at the request of the Democratic party, which wanted this of him in order to appoint him to fill Marketti’s term.

He said he has the most experience of any officer in the department right now.

“I wouldn’t have a problem working for anyone as long as I’m going back to doing police work,” he said.

The Merit Commission’s rules will go before the full county board Tuesday to be placed on file, but Helland said the board has no legal authority to change the rules and regulations the commission decides on. The rules will just be placed on file by the board.

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