Channel 7 Newsviews: Candidates for DuPage County Sheriff Interview

Newsviews: Candidates for DuPage County Sheriff

“Mendrick is a 22 year veteran of the DuPage County Sheriff’s department. He’s held a variety of positions within the department and currently serves as the Patrol commander. Mendrick says he would bring that experience to the job if elected Sheriff.” ABC 7 Chicago

Topics include: opioids, school violence, mental health, mentorship, technology, and budget experience.

Read the transcript below.

(Tanja Babich) Welcome back to Newsviews. I’m Tonja Babich joining me now is Republican candidate for DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick. Mendrick is a 22-year veteran of the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department. He has held a variety of positions within the department and currently serves as the patrol commander. Mendrick says he would bring that experience to the job if he is elected sheriff. He joins me now. Good morning, and welcome to Newsviews.

(James Mendrick) Good morning. Thanks for having me on.

(Tanja Babich) Well you are certainly qualified for the job. You could easily maintain the status quo if you so choose, but what would you change about the department if you’re elected to office?

(James Mendrick) Well, I think there’s a lot of things that can be improved. There’re three main issues in DuPage County. The first one obviously is the opioid crisis. Also, there’s school violence and then there’s mental health which seems to entwine all three. Mental health is the largest issue that we have in DuPage County. School violence is obviously attributable to mental health issues. The opioids, a lot of it is self-medicating to ease the pain of certain mental illnesses.

(Tanja Babich) In your 20-plus years in the department you feel like you’ve seen a market increase in all three areas?

(James Mendrick) Absolutely. Yeah, nationwide too with school violence. I think it is very important to look at not only the enforcement, but the sociological issues. We know why most school shootings happen. A large majority of its bullying or cyber bullying or some ostracization in the school environment and we have to start looking at a competent school liaison officer that’s trained in the sociological functions where they can identify symptoms of developmental disorders mental illness mental health issues and start even mentorship programs. We’re your using students to include people in school activities, so they don’t have that disconnect that causes them this anxiety.

(Tanja Babich) How can you better equip deputies and officers with the department not just in schools but in you know in their work in general dealing with people who have who are suffering from mental health crises of some kind, it’s something that I’m assuming that you see more often now?

(James Mendrick) Absolutely. It’s increasing, you know a big thing for us this technology too. We need to start applying 21st century principles to 20th century issues. We have to start looking at enhancing our technology, we have a hard server room. We need to start replacing that and going to app-based cloud technology. With cloud technology, we could use tablets and phones even for school incidents we could pipe any feed right from a camera to the school liaison cell phone. We could do push notifications to notify people of things in their community burglaries, missing people, anything that’s happening in your neighborhood and we could also use that device to engage the community into taking photographs of what they see on an everyday basis and help us police your own areas.

(Tanja Babich) Well speaking of 21st century technology what about the issue of body cams? How do you feel about implementing those the department?

(James Mendrick) I think body cams can be a good thing a good tool. The problem is there’s a lot of good ideas out there but fitting in your budget can sometimes be a problem and the problem with body cams is that they expensive. You need a lot of server space, I have to have a full-time redactor. You have to have full-time FOIA officer, it adds on manpower to the States Attorney. There are a lot of residual fees that you’re going to see they’re going to annualize and right now we’re in a budget shortfall. We just lost headcount over budget. So, to have body cams we actually have to reduce our headcount even further have less cops on the street. So, as I think it could be a good idea, I don’t think they’re practical as a budget item. I did the budget for six cycles. I’m the only candidate that’s even seen our DuPage County budget, so I think it’s very important to think of the dollars and cents before you jump into a technological advancement.

(Tanja Babich) We’ve talked about advances in technology that are cost-saving for example cloud technology as opposed to hard servers is that something that you would be interested in in looking at long term, even if it doesn’t fit the budget presently?

(James Mendrick) Well, the beauty of this is if you lease that technology; so, we own our server room, it’s very expensive and you have to have a team of people to work on it. Now if you lease this technology we could jump 20 years into the future and save taxpayer money simultaneously because your subscriber.

(Tanja Babich) Can it also apply to body cam technologies?

(James Mendrick) I don’t know of any leasing. The county board and the Sheriff’s office explored body cams last year and all I could find was one grant that we would have had to match just for the equipment alone and nothing for any of the annualized fees that would carry it forward.

(Tanja Babich) What about the opioid crisis? You said that’s something that would be a priority for you. What changes would you implement within the department in order to better fight it?

(James Mendrick) Well I think there’s a lot of moving parts. I don’t think there is a war on drugs because all wars eventually end. This is an ongoing battle every day. And with a lot of causes there have to be a multitude of solutions. You know there’s diversionary programs where companies are starting to look into giving reward systems called like a gold star program. If you do voluntary drug, testing that you get help with tuition reimbursement getting into colleges getting into jobs. Even gift cards from stores to deglamorize drug use.

Then there’s an educational component. We could teach people signs of drugs with their kids and if there is suspected drug use. Everybody’s got a smartphone these days and if the parents have a plan you can actually have a keystroke mirror program to where you can know every keystroke that your kids doing that with mirror on your phone, so you know if something’s going on; and then there’s enforcement through like canines. With canines I’ve been the commander for 14 years also. With canines, you know if you employ canines and then share them with the other municipalities, you get a lot of seizure money and then you take you know bad guy money and supplement taxpayer money also brings in revenue.

(Tanja Babich) James Mendrick. Thank you for your time.

(James Mendrick) Thank you.