Grundy County Board hears from sheriff’s office

Sheriff Ken Briley details 2020 metrics, 2021 plans for board

MORRIS – The Grundy County Board heard from Sheriff Ken Briley during Tuesday night’s monthly board meeting.

Briley reported that, although the past year presented many challenges, including numerous staff members contracting COVID-19, the department kept its focus to maintain a quality of service that the residents of Grundy County can be proud of.

“We will make changes as we find appropriate,” Briley said. “And we will continue to treat the citizens of Grundy County fairly and with respect.”

Briley went on to note that the department purchased 12 Tasers, which are devices that can be used to subdue a suspect without using deadly force. He said that one of the devices in being used in the jail, one is being used in the Grundy County Courthouse and the other 10 are out on patrol.

Briley also pointed out that when he took office in 2018, the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page had 7,000 followers. In the past two years, by taking a light-hearted, humorous approach to the Facebook page and its posts, the following has increased to 21,000.

He also said the department has a school resource officer for schools in the county, Deputy Teresa Damron, who is in attendance at schools Monday through Friday. He also noted that most of the schools in the county have stop the bleed kits and that administrators and nurses at the schools are trained to use them.

Briley said that the stay-at-home orders imposed earlier in the year because of COVID-19 caused the number of traffic stops in 2020 to drop to 5,804, a number that was down 695 from 2019. Despite the drop in traffic stops, however, Briley pointed out that there were 134 DUIs in 2019 and 135 in 2020. He also said the number of drug overdoses increased from 21 in 2019 to 24 in 2020.

Another point of improvement for the department was the conversion of a storage closet to an armory. Also, the evidence room doubled in size, and the entrance to the evidence locker was relocated from the men’s locker room, making it easier for female officers to bring evidence into the locker.

Chief Deputy John Nicholson then spoke to the board about a proactive police policy that the department hopes to have approved at the March board meeting.

Nicholson said the sheriff’s office has worked with local police chiefs to assign officers to the proactive unit and that it is not a separate entity. It will function as the schedules permit and will use existing personnel.

“This is a way to make an impact on the narcotics in the community,” Nicholson said. “But it won’t be limited to drugs. For example, if a community is having a rash of break-ins or burglaries, the unit might be assigned to that.”

Nicholson said that the unit is similar to the Metro Area Narcotic Squad, but it is designed to serve more rural areas. He said the unit may be assigned at times to conduct alcohol or tobacco compliance checks to ensure that minors are not being sold those items.

Rob Oesterle

Rob has been a sports writer for the Morris Herald-News and Joliet Herald-News for more than 20 years. He is currently also writing news for the Morris Herald-News.