New Kane sheriff announces shake-up in department leadership
Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer introduced his new leadership team of lieutenants Monday, offering them up as evidence of fulfilling a campaign promise of having senior staffers on duty 24 hours a day.
The main focus of the change is ensuring there is always a lieutenant on duty to oversee operations. At the top of the food chain for oversight are four division directors.
Lt. Tom Bumgarner is the new chief deputy and in charge of public safety. Lt. Pat Gengler is the new director of administration and will continue in his former role as department spokesman. Lt. Chris Lewis is the director of corrections. And Eddie Jackson will be in charge of court security.
Jackson just retired from the Geneva police department and was a supporter during Kramer's campaign.
Kramer said he spoke to lieutenants before making the changes and was convinced they could all perform their duties while also taking on an oversight role during a day, evening or midnight shift. Lieutenants received their job assignments based on years of service.
"It was very important to me that we have 24/7 coverage that takes the burden off of one person," Kramer said. "What they are really overseeing is all the activity. They are not just overseeing the manpower of their shift."
The realignment also means Kramer's two political opponents, Lt. Kevin Williams and Lt. Willie Mayes, were also reassigned. Kramer said their seniority means they will work daytime hours, but he also made an effort to smooth over any lingering tension.
"Not everybody is going to be happy with my decisions," Kramer said. "I'm sure that the lieutenants I ran against had ways that they wanted to run the shop. What I've allowed them to do is implement some of the things that they wanted. It gave them the freedom to use some of the ideas that they've collected over the years.
"I think I allayed some of their fears that they might be assigned a midnight shift and feeling that I had no use for them. That's not the case at all. I need all hands on deck."
Kramer said the public will see more of those hands. He's pushing all patrol officers to meet with homeowner associations, schools and townships on a regular basis.
His two big public safety goals for the year are decreasing the number of people killed in traffic accidents and expanding the department's anti-drug outreach program into middle schools and high schools.
"If you look at your crime reports in the newspaper, it all seems to be directed toward drug and alcohol abuse," Kramer said. "I've read a thousand reports, and I'll tell you it's all about drugs and alcohol. We need to address that in the formative years for our kids."
Inside the department, the next problem to address is a lingering union contract dispute with correctional officers. Kramer said he will meet with the union later this month to resolve any lingering grievances and, hopefully, ink a new contract.
The outcome of that contract will play into the department's budget, which is overseen by the Kane County Board. Kramer said he fired a grant writer and an administrative assistant to make room for a new finance director to oversee the department's $28 million budget. Kramer has not yet hired the director, but he said the new employee will not be deputized.