Kane County sheriff says opponent 'crossed line' with highway searches
Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer said his Democratic opponent in the Nov. 6 election, sheriff's Sgt. Ron Hain, "crossed the line" with several roadside searches of motorists in which judges ruled evidence as inadmissible.
Hain said he's never been disciplined or demoted and that Kramer, who is seeking a second, 4-year term, is trying to have it both ways by attacking him.
Kramer's comments came during a Daily Herald endorsement interview this week in which the topic of lawsuits facing the county was addressed.
Kramer, a Republican from Geneva, pointed to several lawsuits filed against the county and settled in response to roadside searches conducted by Hain on interstates 88 and 90 in which illegal drugs and weapons were seized.
In several 2016 cases, defense attorneys successfully argued in court that evidence seized in the searches should be banned from trial because Hain improperly extended traffic stops by issuing a warning while a deputy with a drug-sniffing dog headed to the area.
In some cases where evidence was banned from trial because of a Fourth Amendment violation against unreasonable search and seizure, prosecutors had to dismiss charges altogether.
Said Kramer: "If this guy was actually an expert on drug interdiction, he would have known about these Supreme Court cases where the line is drawn. And he went past that line."
Kramer noted his Kane County Heroin Initiative Task Force has been operating for three years and has not been sued.
"We don't violate people's rights. We do it the right way," he added.
Asked if these instances disqualified Hain from becoming the next sheriff, Kramer said: "I don't think his judgment has been good enough that he should be leading others."
Hain defended these cases, saying he wore them as a "badge of honor" because he removed significant amounts of drugs from the streets even if the cases were thrown out.
"I did my job as a police officer," he said, noting the Kane County state's attorney's office supported and signed off on each case.
Hain noted he has never been disciplined during his career at the sheriff's office, remains in a supervisory position, and was not demoted after the judges' rulings.
Hain said Kramer is trying to have it both ways: being critical but not taking any action.
"I would stand by my career record. They haven't changed my rank or status. Clearly, they believe in what I am doing," said Hain, who on Tuesday also announced endorsements from former sheriffs Pat Perez, a Democrat who served from 2006 to 2014, and Ken Ramsey, a Republican who served three terms from 1994 to 2006.
During the March 2018 primary campaign, Democratic challenger and sheriff's Lt. Willie Mayes Sr. declined to criticize Hain for the searches that were later thrown out of court.
The election is Nov. 6 and the winner will begin a four-year term in December. Early voting begins Thursday at some county locations. Check the clerk's website for more information.