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Kendall, Kane sheriffs face challenges with new public safety law

MONTGOMERY – A new state law taking effect next year will require some arrestees to receive a hearing before a judge within 24 hours and that is of concern to the sheriffs of Kendall and Kane counties.

Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird and Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain talked about the new public safety law, trends at their county jails and efforts to keep people safe, during a forum on April 28 at Montgomery Village Hall.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, organized the event, attracting a small group of citizens to and from Montgomery, which straddles the Kane-Kendall county line.

Currently, law enforcement and state’s attorney’s offices have 48 hours to bring a defendant in front of a judge after an arrest is made.

Under legislation taking effect on Jan. 1, 2023, persons charged with a Class 4 felony or a misdemeanor must be brought before a judge within 24 hours. The 48-hour rule will still apply for those charged with the more serious Class X and classes 1, 2 and 3 felonies.

The two sheriffs expressed concern at the prospect of being forced to interview witnesses and perform other work leading up to an appearance before a judge in the reduced time frame.

They also worried about the effect the speeded up process will have on victims of domestic violence.

Hain and Baird further expressed concern over the cashless bail system that is included in the public safety legislation and also will become law at the start of 2023.

“Sometimes incarceration can be good thing,” Baird said, explaining that the “shock factor” of being placed in jail can help put lawbreakers back on the right path.

Hain agreed, adding that when a person is in jail it gives deputies an opportunity to help the individual with treatment for drug abuse or mental health problems and take other corrective measures.

“What we do and don’t do in the jail is going to have a direct effect on public safety,” Hain said.

However, the two sheriffs said there is plenty in the public safety bill that will help law enforcement, including new training requirements.

A county sheriff’s office has three principal areas of responsibility, Hain said, including patrol duties, court security and operating the jail.

The Kane County jail has a capacity of 640 inmates, Hain said, with an average of 320 people in the lock-up on a given day.

The Kendall County jail’s capacity is 203 prisoners, Baird said, with the daily population ranging from 130 to 140. About 15% of the inmates are serving sentences, while the rest are awaiting trial, he said.

The number of inmates in the jail from Kendall County is usually close to 50 or so, Baird said, with the rest having been transferred from other counties including Cook and Grundy, along with federal prisoners.

Holmes expressed admiration for the work performed by law enforcement officers.

“It’s a very tough job,” Holmes said. “They are often seeing people on the worst day of their lives.”

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, from left, State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora and Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird appeared at a public safety forum on April 28, 2022 at Montgomery Village Hall. (Mark Foster --

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, from left, State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora and Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird appeared at a public safety forum on April 28, 2022 at Montgomery Village Hall. (Mark Foster —

The two sheriffs said they are in constant contact with each other.

Hain said he often asks himself, “What would Dwight do?”

Baird said he believes Kane and Kendall counties enjoy lower crime rates because he and Hain have established a partnership.

“”Ron is an innovative thinker,” Baird said. “It’s refreshing. We get along. We help each other with our jails,” he added, also asserting that what happens in one county can affect another.

“If you have a prosecutor from a larger county in Illinois who won’t prosecute crimes it has an effect here,” Baird said in a thinly veiled reference to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The sheriffs were asked by an audience member what they would recommend for a person interested in a law enforcement career.

Hain said he wanted to be a sheriff’s deputy from the age of four and started as a police cadet and a dispatcher.

“Get your feet wet,” he advised, while also recommending that law enforcement aspirants get a four-year college degree.

Baird said he decided on a career in law enforcement when he was 15-years-old.

“I always wanted to help the underdog,” Baird said. He said he started his career as a security guard at a K-mart store in Montgomery.

For those wanting to be police officers, Baird recommended service in the U.S. Armed Forces, which provides pay, experience and preference points on police department examinations.

Hain said he has had good luck with hires who are a little older with some life experience. In particular, he said people who have worked in the service industry make good candidates.

“They are used to people who are not happy or under the influence,” Hain said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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