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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Facebook: Elect James Mendrick For DuPage County Sheriff
Family: Joseph Mendrick father-deceased
Nanette Mendrick- mother
William Mendrick- brother
Cynthia Mendrick- wife
Connor Mendrick- son age 18
Colin Mendrick- Son age 14
Occupation: Commander DuPage County Sheriff Deputy
Education: BA-Criminal Justice- Louis University Romeoville
Civic involvement: Supporter NAMI DuPage
supporter Trinity Services
Elected offices held: Elected Downers Grove GOP Comitteeman
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
I truly believe I can make a significant difference and bring positive change to the Sheriff's Office. I have the backing of the men and women in blue. The deputies in corrections, the courthouse and law enforcement have all endorsed me through their local chapters. I would have no desire to be Sheriff without the support of the rank and file. Having hundreds of deputies behind me gives me the motivation to run. I also have good relationships with the County Board and other units of local government. Moral is very low right now at our Office and I know I could fix it. I am the only candidate who has managed the agency wide budget and headcount. Intricate knowledge of the budget is of paramount importance during these fiscally challenging times. This gives me the ability to introduce new initiatives that will make our county safer while simultaneously saving taxpayer dollars. New initiatives are only possible if they can be afforded in the budget. I'm also the only candidate that has had actual experience on the street as a patrol commander. Being out there shoulder to shoulder with the deputies is the only way to truly know and understand the job. Everything is about people. Nothing is about things. My real motivation is that I have the budget and operational experience paired with many great relationships. This gives me the tools to fix our Office and make DuPage County a safer place to live for your families and mine.
If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
The drug epidemic would be one of my leading priorities which is articulated in the following question. I also would create a comprehensive Elder assistance/abuse program at the Sheriff's Office. The HELP program, Helping the Elderly through Law enforcement Partnerships, would be a program dedicated to assist our aging community with identity theft, various scams/fraud, elder abuse, Alzheimer's and dementia assistance, financial exploitation, residential safety checks, telephone/IRS scams or any other needs. Deputies will have specialized training for this very necessary function. Diverting non violent offenders with mental illness or developmental disorders from the jail to private treatment would be another priority. Within the corrections facility, someone with mental health problems will become a victim or absorb criminal characteristics almost osmotically. This is an opportunity where doing the right think also creates a fiscal gain. I would create a task force dedicated to stopping the current insurgence of criminals coming out of the city to commit crimes within DuPage County. I plan to create a media center within our Office. I believe the local media and the Sheriff's Office could have a symbiotic relationship where we can easily relate important facts and information to media outlets which would improve public safety operations and efficiencies. Crimes in progress, missing people or other evolving incidents could quickly be relayed to citizens through media resources. Partnerships between law enforcement and the media gives residents more information quickly and enhances our transparency. Every strategy I plan to deploy revolves around a teamwork oriented approach.
What do you see as the biggest gap in solving the opioid crisis in your county? What can the sheriff's office do to help close the gap?
Anyone can say they're going to wage a war on drugs but I rarely hear a substantive, articulated plan. I have a meaningful and mult-tiered strategy for the war against drugs. The unregulated internet, the dark web, is where a great deal of drug trafficking now takes place. When the deals are being made in cyber space, it only stands to reason that we need to invade that environment to catch the criminals. In today's world, you either evolve your technology or become a victim of it. Simultaneously, our canine unit should be expanded so we have a drug detection dog on each shift. This increases drug detection not only for the Sheriff's Office but they can assist the other thirty two municipal police agencies within DuPage County. This will take dope off our streets. Unused medications are a large source of drug abuse for our youths also. I will start a new program where residents can text or e-mail the Sheriff's Office when they have medications they want to dispose of and we will send personnel to the home for collection and destruction. This is another way to take potentially harmful substances out of the hands of our children. Parental education programs through the Sheriff's Office would be another valuable tool. We need to work with families and help educate them about the drug culture and the signs of drug use. Diversion, education, technology and enforcement combined is the only way to have a true impact on this crisis.
How is the opioid crisis affecting other crimes in your county? What other crime trends are you noticing related to opioids and what can be done to prevent these crimes?
Since I command a patrol team, I see the repercussions of the opioid crisis very frequently. Vehicle and residential burglaries as well as thefts are increasing due to the need for money to purchase drugs. Robberies and auto thefts are trending up also, many times leading to police chases or volatile contacts with citizens or law enforcement. A spike in domestic incidents correlates to drug use. An insurgence of criminals coming out of the city and committing crime within DuPage County is becoming more prevalent. As I stated in my previous answer, this must be dealt with in a muti-tiered strategy. We need to shift towards being proactive and evolve our community police model. Being in the neighborhoods talking to residents and getting to better know the community. We need to focus on diverting the children away from drug use, educating parents to identify the signs associated with the drug culture. We need to utilize predictive policing technology where crime trends are analyzed and we change deployment of personnel to be where drug related crimes are most likely to occur. This problem doesn't have boarders or jurisdictions. We need to create a task force and combine resources from other municipal and county agencies. We, as the Sheriff's Office, should be providing other agencies with drug dogs any time their needed. The only way to have a true impact in this war is to communicate with other police agencies and create a countywide strategy that we are all a part of.
Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the sheriff's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
As with any organization, business or governmental entity, there's always room to improve. Some positions could be combined, changed, eliminated or new ones could be created. I feel the key to being a successful Sheriff is to speak to and get input from each and every employee within the Office. The people that do the jobs every single day know best on how to create efficiencies in what they do. I've been at this Office for over twenty years and cannot recall ever having a significant restructuring. A lot has changed in twenty years so I do see the need for evolution but wouldn't commit to personnel changes without a comprehensive analysis and input from the workers. Budgetary items, on the other hand, have a great deal of room for improvement. We should be leasing our technology. This would save significant taxpayer dollars while catapulting our technological capabilities decades forward. We could do bulk purchasing. If we combined purchasing efforts for equipment with other police agencies and collar counties, there would be financial savings to all participants. Diverting non violent offenders from jail to private treatment would have significant cost savings. Having a trained, dedicated grant writer seems like a very obvious necessity. Utilization of drug canines would bring substantial seizure money where criminal assets will help fund the Sheriff's Office. My specialty has always been the budget and I'm the only candidate who has managed that process. I can save the DuPage County taxpayers a great deal of money.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I believe in public safety
not politics. There's political processes to become Sheriff but the political realm should not exist within the public safety system. Sheriff Zaruba once supported me and encouraged me in my run for Sheriff but due to certain endorsements from other elected officials, he rescinded that support. He then became the political chairman for my opponent, promoted him several times with a large raises of pensionable income and made him my immediate supervisor with the newly created title of Undersheriff. From then on, all communications and press rseleases to the public from the Sheriff's Office come from the "Undersheriff" to give him exposure. This behavior is abnormal in our environment to say the least. Some hard working deputies will not be promoted within a thirty year career, so as you can imagine, these actions are a demoralizing force within our agency. This is a big reason the deputies are so strongly supporting me. I believe in term limits and I strongly believe a Sheriff nor any other elected official should have the ability to pick their successor and have continued control over an agency. We need new, fresh perspectives not burdened with obligations to previous administrations. It should be the choice of our citizens, the taxpayers, to pick their elected officials, not politicians. A Sheriff is responsible for your safety, making operations more efficient while being fiscally conservative and being responsive to the public. This will never be James Mendrick's Sheriff's Office, it will be yours.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Alan Mulally- previous CEO Ford Motor Company
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My father once told me never to make a decision based on emotion. That advice has helped me in all aspects of my life.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would have spent more time with my father.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English. I've learned that command of the English language has given me the ability to communicate and create better relationships with the people around me.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
People will never remember everything you say but they will always remember how you made them feel. Life is not about things, it's about people.