James Mendrick is intent on bringing the DuPage County sheriff’s office in line with the 21st century.
“You have to be willing to move from 20th-century strategies to deal with today’s problems,” Mendrick, who is running against Democrat Gregory Whalen in November’s general election, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “School violence, the opioids crisis and mental health are the areas of my biggest concerns, and I think often times all three are interconnected.”
A 22-year veteran of law enforcement, Mendrick currently serves as deputy sheriff. He said his campaign is about securing the community and argues that he is the only candidate to have command experience across the area.
With school shootings on the rise across the country, Mendrick said his plan for safeguarding schools is as revolutionary as it is comprehensive.
The plan calls for a police officer to be stationed in schools along with a panic button that rings directly to police stationhouses. The alarm would be handled by two dispatchers, one with access to the school camera system and the other to the public announcement system.
“When a shooting occurs, one of the dispatchers will direct everyone to safe areas of the schools,” said Mendrick, adding that the officer stationed at the school would be able to view the school camera system via an app on his phone along with arriving officers.
The officer assigned to the school will also be trained in interacting and talking with students in hopes of keeping problems from escalating.
“A big part of the battle is trying to keep things from happening by being able to de-escalate problems,” Mendrick said.
As for the opioids crisis and the issue of mental health, Mendrick said incarceration shouldn’t be viewed as the primary method for dealing with offenders suffering on either front.
“With that approach, often times what happens is the person becomes even more victimized and begins to adopt a certain level of criminality,” he said. “You hear talk about a war on drugs, but it really shouldn’t be seen as a war because all wars end and this battle never should.”
Mendrick said his experience working with budgets and practically every area of the sheriff’s office sets him apart from Whalen.
“My opponent has only been in town for two years and he comes from a very small area and department,” he said. “He has no budget prowess or real understanding about the needs of DuPage County.”
This story was originally published in The DuPage Policy Journal on September 28, 2018 and written by Glenn Minnis.
Read more about James Mendrick, his campaign platform and his endorsements.