Kane sheriff candidates spar over Delnor hostage incident
Did Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer drop the ball when he decided not to go to the Delnor Hospital in Geneva for a standoff in which a jail inmate took nurses hostage?
His Democratic opponent, Ron Hain, contends Kramer's physical absence from the scene was telling.
"On the darkest day in Kane County history that I could remember, the Delnor incident, he couldn't respond because he tore his toenail," Hain said. "Right then and there, he essentially disavowed himself, in my opinion, of the position."
Kramer maintained that if he would have gone to the scene -- where more than 70 officers were working -- he would have just gotten in the way. He said he was in constant contact with Chief Deputy Pat Gengler and other officers.
"I'm not going to be looking over the back of the SWAT commander," Kramer said. "Whether I showed up there or not, I don't think that shows anything."
Hain, a sergeant at the sheriff's office, hopes to unseat Kramer, a Republican who is seeking his second, 4-year term on Nov. 6.
On May 13, 2017, an inmate who was being treated at the Geneva hospital for eating part of his jail-issued plastic sandal asked a guard to unshackle him to use the washroom.
Tywon Salters, 21, then took the guard's gun and took nurses hostage. After several hours of negotiations, a SWAT team entered the hospital and shot Salters dead. A deputy was wounded, and several other people later sued the sheriff's office, hospital and security firm, arguing their negligence allowed Salters to escape.
Kramer said he believes Hain "absolutely" brought up the Delnor hostage standoff again to make Kramer look bad.
Kramer said authorities have increased communication and if procedures were followed, Salters would not have escaped.
"There should have been two officers there, I will concede that," Kramer said, adding it's "completely false" that doctors and nurses were warned of Salters before the incident.
Kramer also added that Hain has worked only 59 days in the last 21 months due a work line-of-duty injury.
"The only time I see him is at campaign events," Kramer said.
Hain said he was injured Dec. 30, 2016, when a pit bull "demolished" his left foot while answering a call. Hain said he had reconstructive surgery in July 2017, came back to work too quickly by pushing his rehab and will soon need another surgery.
"My foot essentially fell apart," Hain said, noting he filed paperwork in fall 2016 to run for sheriff. "I'm not going to give up the sheriff's race because I was attacked by a dog."
The Nov. 6 election winner takes office in early December. Early voting begins today at some Kane County locations. For more information, visit the Kane County clerk's website.