Kramer Begins New Era for Kane County Sheriff's Office

Kramer Begins New Era for Kane County Sheriff’s Office

Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer introduced his leadership team at a press conference Monday, Jan. 5, ushering in a new era for the Sheriff’s Office and the promise of 24-7 command for Kane County law enforcement.

Kramer’s leadership team includes Lt. Tom Bumgarner as deputy chief in charge of public safety, Lt. Pat Gengler as director of administration, Lt. Chris Lewis as director of corrections and former longtime Geneva police officer Eddie Jackson as the newly-sworn-in director of court security. Mitzi Strike moves from the Kane County IT department to provide tech leadership and support for the Sheriff’s Office.

Kramer introduced each employee, conducted the swearing in of Jackson and answered questions from reporters. He said the transitions were going very well so far and that he felt it was important for him to move quickly to ensure that lieutenants had oversight of operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The first thing I did was I talked to all my lieutenants,” he said. “The lieutenants aren’t really assigned to a shift, they’re assigned to days, evenings and midnights. So what they’re overseeing is all the activity — they’re not just overseeing the manpower in a shift.

“I wanted to see those lieutenants hooked up and hit the ground running,” he said. “It was very important to me that we have 24/7 coverage — that takes the burden off of one person.”

Here are some of Kramer’s responses to questions from the media:

On Reorganizing and Position Changes

Kramer ran against Lt. Kevin Williams in the primary and Lt. Willie Mayes in the general election. Both are working day shifts and heading department initiatives — Williams is in charge of community policing (COP) and Mayes of planning and training, according to the Sheriff’s Office webpage.

“Not everybody’s going to be happy with my decisions, and I’m sure that the lieutenants I ran against in the 2014 election season had ways they would have wanted to run the shop. But what I’ve allowed them to do is implement some of the things they wanted to do. It gave them freedom to utilize some of the ideas they had collected over the years.

“I think I allayed some of their fears that they were going to be assigned the midnight shift or that I had no use for them, and that’s not the case at all. I need all hands on deck.

“I want our lieutenants to think and do. And they’re more able to do that now.”

 What Would You Like to Accomplish Quickly?

“What I’d like to accomplish is get all the employees healthy. We have quite a few out on injuries, and I’d like them to get back in action.

“I’d like to address one last union contract, with the correctional center. We’ve already addressed a number of union grievances, and I’ve talked to the attorney for the union and also the union president for corrections. We’ve agreed to meet this month, and that’s a big deal for me. Until we get the contract settled and some of the problems of the past addressed, it’s hard to go forward.

“I did want to take the opportunity over the next 60 days to speak with every employee, even if it’s only for five minutes. I want to get an idea of (whether) they’re happy, what their aspirations are, whether they want to keep this as a lifelong employment or move on. I think it’s important to get an understanding of how the employees feel and what they see are the issues we need to address.

“That’s going to be very important in the correctional center. I know the command staff — most of them worked with me in the late ‘80s. (But) some of the correctional people, I don’t know very well.”

On Staying Within Budget

“A couple things are falling into place that may be beneficial. First off, the price of gas went down. If you can imagine going into a budget year and the price of gas doubles, that cripples your budget. But I’m doing pretty well as far as the expenses. I think we’re at the 96th percentile in terms of spending. So we’re right in range.

I have cut back a few positions. We eliminated the grant writer and an administrative assistant position. That’s because I wanted to bring on board a finance director. I don’t want that to be a deputized person, I want that person to be a financial analyst, somebody who might be a CPA. We’re looking for basically a finance director to run this $28 million budget, and that is a big deal. That will help me keep spending under control.

“(It also will help to have) lieutenants in charge of all the operational activities. When you think about it, what they’re in charge of is all our assets. It’s not just manpower, but it’s all our assets … And if we’re frugal with our assets and don’t just automatically do things because we’ve always done it that way in the past, maybe we can save a few dollars.

“It’s critical that all of our assets are used wisely and for the benefit of the citizens of Kane County. I think, overall, we’ll get to the end of the year under budget or at budget.”

On What He Would Like to Accomplish in the First Year

“I’ve thought about this many times, trying to fall asleep at night.

“Within a year, I’d like to think that we’ve made things a little better. So, what does ‘a little better’ mean? It means less people killed on our highways. Some of that will be traffic enforcement, especially around the holidays and drinking periods when most people are killed in alcohol-related crashes.

“I’d like to see our Too Good For Drugs program expanded, not only in fifth and sixth grade, but into middle school and the high school. If you look at the crime reports in the newspaper, it all seems to be directed toward drug and alcohol abuse. I’ve read 1,000 reports, and I tell you, it’s all about drug and alcohol abuse. We need to address that in the formative years for our kids.

 “We want to have a safer society, but we can only do that when we start addressing our problems. I’d like to see the drug program expanded. Let’s face it, right now drugs are a major problem, especially drugs like heroin. I think we’ll be able to do that by partnering with our schools and with the community policing activities we’ll be able to do throughout the year.”

Read More