McHenry County sheriff candidates bring efficiency, direction of office to forefront
The state of the McHenry County sheriff's office is on the ballot this June as two Republicans face off for the top spot at the agency.
While both candidates -- former police chief Tony Colatorti and McHenry County Undersheriff Robb Tadelman -- have similar philosophies on crime and their approaches to empowering the staff around them, they disagree on how the office is currently being run.
Tadelman said he thinks the office's work in crime prevention speaks for itself. He praised the agency's processes and programs. Colatorti criticized the office on a variety of issues, saying it can do more on crime and should have been more proactive on body camera policies.
The race itself has been one of the more contentious ones in this year's slate of county races, as both lob shots at one another and gather endorsements from key party members in both McHenry County and surrounding counties.
Whoever wins the primary on June 28 is set to run uncontested in November.
Running the department
If elected sheriff, Tadelman said he wants to emphasize training through programs that allow more flexibility so that the agency isn't sacrificing officers on the street.
That, paired with the fact that police are often the ones called to scenarios involving mental health crises, is something Tadelman wants to help better prepare deputies for, he said.
"It's a benefit to everyone," Tadelman said. "Giving them the tools to handle any situation ... is my No. 1 goal."
If elected, Colatorti said a review of the entire agency would be his priority. Next, the goal would be to figure out how to recruit more deputies, adding that the office has been operating under the ideal amount "for years."
"I'm not coming in with guns blazing and changing the world," he said. "I need to come in there and understand the operations from day one."
Still, Colatorti took issue in general with several aspects of how the office is currently run. He criticized the current administration for what he called being late to get body cameras, which were approved earlier this year.
The sheriff's office had pointed to issues with storage, cost and personnel as hurdles for not acquiring them sooner. The purchase had been in the works before the state law requiring agencies to have them by 2025, Tadelman said in March.
Colatorti said he also wants to review all the county's contracts and try to find ways to save money. He thinks his business experience is something that he can bring to the table that Tadelman cannot.
"I think we need to look and see what we truly need," he said.
Tadelman said he feels the budget is in a good spot. He said the process for assessing the budget is reevaluated every year and there is an explanation included for every dollar asked for.
Crime is front and center as a worry for many constituents, both candidates said.
Colatorti said he thinks more can be done and wants to work with other departments to create a more comprehensive plan to deal with these issues.
Tadelman credited the work the McHenry County sheriff's office is already doing to address regional crime issues and noted that the crime rate locally has gone down in recent years.
From 2014 to 2020, property crimes reported by the sheriff's office have gone down all but one year, while violent crimes have fluctuated a bit more, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Property crimes since 2010 have declined by more than 71% in the past decade, while violent crimes have stayed relatively the same, data shows.
"People move to this community because of the safety of this community," Tadelman said.
With the jail population potentially declining in coming years due to the end of the county's contract to house federal detainees and changes to the state's bail laws, Colatorti said he wants to explore leasing any freed-up space to health providers who can help rehabilitate people with drug issues while they're in custody, he said.
"Why don't we try to work on them while they're there?" he said. "We have this facility. Why don't we work with our community partners?"
Drug use is a difficult issue facing the county, Tadelman said. The county has made an effort to charge those with drug-induced homicide if they sell to someone who dies and cited a program started through the agency as helping improved that.
"We have been looked at throughout the nation as the way to do it," he said.
Law enforcement also needs to be speaking with children about the dangers of drugs, Tadelman said, an effort that could also be used as a recruitment tool.
Tadelman has been with the McHenry County sheriff's office for 18 years, starting as a patrol deputy. Since that time, he has served in multiple capacities in the office, which includes serving on the SWAT team, as a field training officer and investigating internet crimes against children.
He was promoted to sergeant in 2010, then lieutenant, where he said he began learning the role of sheriff. Eventually, he was promoted into his current role as undersheriff, which has exposed him even further to other jobs in the agency.
"My experience at the agency speaks for itself," he said. "I've dedicated my time and my life to the community."
Colatorti has 22 years of law enforcement experience and served as police chief in Holiday Hills and Prairie Grove. He started in 1998 with Tower Lakes and made his way up to sergeant before leaving for Prairie Grove, he said.
With his law enforcement experience, combined with his 25 years in the restaurant business, Colatorti said he thinks he has the skills to not only lead the sheriff's office but help manage it more efficiently than it is now.
"I want to create a better atmosphere, economically run it better and try to save taxpayer dollars," Colatorti said.