SYCAMORE – DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott announced Friday he will be retiring after serving more than 50 years with the agency, including nearly four decades as sheriff.
Scott wrote in a Friday news release from the sheriff’s office he will retire as DeKalb County sheriff, a role he has had since 1985, as of June 23. He wrote he chose to retire now “after several months of prayer and consultation with trusted friends.”
He said he plans to remain local in retirement.
“My greatest appreciation and love are for my wife, Marcia and all our children who being the sheriff’s family endured and sacrificed much along the way,” Scott wrote in his statement. “Our family will remain here in DeKalb County, ready to assist when called upon but never interfering.”
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Sheriff Roger Scott (left) listens to John Zingale's concerns at a meet and greet during the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce's Candidates' Night at the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb, Ill. on Tuesday January 19, 2010.
Scott, 74, said he still cares about the job and the sheriff’s office. He said there wasn’t any specific catalyst that pushed him to retire now and his reasons for departure were not health related, adding that he still feels good and healthy.
“I still love the job and I’m still able to do it,” Scott said. “But time is passing by quickly.”
Scott said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t prompt any urgency to retire, either.
“I didn’t want to leave as we were in the middle of it,” Scott said. “I think, if anything, it slowed my decision, my final decision.”
Pritzker signed the legislation, House Bill 3653, referred to as the “Safe-T Act,” during an event at Chicago State University alongside members of his administration and lawmakers from the Black caucus. The bill was an initiative of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and abolishes cash bail, overhauls police certification and reforms use-of-force standards among numerous other provisions. The original version of the bill abolished cash bail effective immediately, but that timeline was extended by two years to accommodate the transition and allow for uniform standards to be developed.
“Let me be clear, I do not leave because of the foolishness of the [Democrat] led state legislature under the guise of ‘police reform.’ ... Actually, those legislative actions make me want to stay longer,” Scott wrote in his parting statement. “I retire now because it is time to step aside for the next generation of leadership that will benefit the citizens of DeKalb County and the sheriff’s office itself.”
Scott, who is a foster parent along with his wife Marcia, also recalled a recent conversation with his 9 year old adopted daughter, who told him that he is only home early in the morning and later at night.
Though the conversation happened after he made the decision, “it kind of reaffirmed that I needed to be home now and help Marcia,” Scott said.
Scott said one of the first and main things he will be doing is helping his wife at home on a more regular basis. Even though the couple has two more years of their fostering license, the plan is to start slowing down with that, he said.
“I know my wife and if we get the call that there’s a child that needs to be placed, she will take them in,” Scott said.
Scott recognized those who supported him “throughout these many years” since his career at the sheriff’s office began in 1969. He also gave a nod to those who served with him within the agency and county government.
“My gratitude is extended also to those most trusted individuals who provided counsel, wisdom and friendship during the challenges, joys and difficulties that come with the office of sheriff,” Scott wrote. “We all have worked together to build upon the professional foundation of the sheriff’s office that was already established when I took office
Scott wrote DeKalb County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Andy Sullivan will perform sheriff’s duties until the County Board appoints a new sheriff in August. He cited state law and said Sullivan will “have the same powers and be liable to same penalties and proceedings as if [he] were sheriff, until another sheriff is elected or appointed and qualified.”
Sullivan said Scott’s announcement didn’t take him by surprise and he started having the conversation about retirement with Scott a few months ago. He said he started more heavily considering what’s next for him career-wise – and, after putting more thought into it, he realized becoming sheriff for DeKalb County was something he eventually wanted.
Sullivan, a registered Republican like Scott, would be eligible for consideration for appointment.
Sullivan said he eventually wants to run for the sheriff’s office during the next election. He said he never wanted to run against Scott in previous sheriff elections because he respected Scott too much.
Sullivan said he has valued Scott’s abundant institutional knowledge, guidance and friendship in the 25 years he has been in the sheriff’s office, starting as a law enforcement intern.
“I just can’t put into words what the man means to me,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he believes Scott has “built more than a solid foundation over the course of his 50 years.”
“When you think of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, you think of Roger Scott,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the initial focus for him come June 23 will be keeping up with sheriff’s operations until someone is appointed to the office. He said the sheriff’s office will continue their focus on community policing and will prepare the sheriff’s office to implement the new police reform changes, which are the “most substantial” that he has seen in his career so far.
“We just hope to continue that legacy going forward,” Sullivan said.
Scott, a vocal Christian, recalled Bible passages in his retirement statement, and said the election of a sheriff “is unique in law enforcement and part of the fabric of American democracy.”
“My often stated goal for the sheriff’s office is found in the New Testament scripture Romans 13:4,” Scott wrote. “Speaking of law enforcement, it states, ‘for he is the minister of God to thee for good ... and does not bear the sword in vain.’ The men and women of the sheriff’s office – in fact, in all of law enforcement – do good each and every time that they report for duty. Thank you, DeKalb County citizens, for your continued support.”
Scott said he wanted to make it a point to close out his statement with that verse and philosophy, with law enforcement remaining under scrutiny after several incidents across the country involving people dying in police shootings.
“I believe, despite what is going on in the world and in our nation, that every day law enforcement officers … do accomplish good every single day, every time they go on shift,” Scott said. “I think that’s getting overlooked too often.”
• This story was updated 5:15 p.m. Friday, May 28 to include additional comment from DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott and DeKalb County Sheriff Chief Deputy Andy Sullivan.