McLean County Sheriff's Department

Second Law Enforcement Summit April 19

Join local law enforcement agencies for the 2nd Annual Law Enforcement Educational Summit, April 19, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Illinois State University’s Horton Field House, 180 N. Adelaide St., Normal.

The event is open to the public -- those 16 and over will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of training simulations (see map below).

Last year's inaugural summit in Bloomington offered residents the opportunity to learn how officers are trained to interact with civilians in common law enforcement situations, and for local police agencies to gain insight into community perspectives.

The event and others followed on the February 2015 Breaking Barriers police-community dialogue in Bloomington, co-sponsored by Not In Our Town: Bloomington/Normal.



Local Law Enforcement and Minority Recruitment

According to the Pantagraph, here's a breakdown of the current number of minorities, women, and white officers employed by local law enforcement agencies:

  • Bloomington Police Department's full complement is 128 officers, but seven have not been replaced. The 121 current officers include four (3.2 percent) male Latinos and two (1.6 percent) African-American male officers. There are 112 (93 percent) white male and three (2.4 percent) white female officers.
  • Among Normal Police Department's 80 officers, there are two African-American males (2.5 percent), one Hispanic female (1.25 percent) and one Asian male (1.25 percent). Sixty-eight officers (85 percent) are white males and eight (10 percent) are white females. NPD is in the process of hiring one officer.
  • The  McLean County Sheriff's Department has 53 officer positions, with 50 filled: 48 (96 percent) are white males; there are two (4 percent) white females. That's an increase of one female officer since last February.
  • Illinois State University's Police Department has 27 officers. Three (11 percent) are African-American males, 18 (67 percent) are white males and six (22 percent) are white females. 

Demographically, McLean County is 80.5 percent white, 7.7 percent African-American, 5.2 percent Asian, 4.7 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data. The county is 51.2 percent female.

Education Summit April 29; New Youth Intervention Specialist on Board

As local law enforcement agencies prep next week to show how they interact with the community, efforts to keep youths from becoming involved in the juvenile justice system reportedly have gained momentum with the introduction of a youth intervention specialist for the Bloomington Police Department.

Michael Donnelly, who works as community impact manager with the United Way of McLean County, will work part time with police to identify and mentor at-risk youth.

Mayor Tari Renner said the city is not alone in the challenges posed by youths who get into trouble. Calling youth crime "one of the top social issues" among mayors, Renner said a $25,000 grant from State Farm will allow Donnelly to work with youths and their families to address small matters before they become bigger ones.

A similar program funded by State Farm has been in place at the Normal Police Department since 2008.

BPD Chief Brendan Heffner said Donnelly will work with the agency's four school resource officers and McLean County juvenile probation staff to help students who need guidance.

"We know we won't save every young person we come in contact with," said Donnelly, but building a bridge that serves police, families and social services is a positive first step.

Donnelly's prior experience working with youth through several community programs makes him a good fit, said Heffner.

Retired 11th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb attended the announcement at BPD and said Donnelly "knows the families and the system," agreeing having a person who knows how to talk to youths about the consequences of their mistakes will provide the community with a much-needed resource.

McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers also applauded the city for obtaining the grant and for hiring Donnelly.

"Its not unusual for adults in the criminal justice system to have a history of police contact as a juvenile. A lot of what law enforcement does is reactive. It's great to see someone working on prevention," said Chambers.

City officials did not have an estimate for the number of youths Donnelly could see during the year he will work under the grant.  With the onset of warm weather when youths are typically more active, he could be busy, Heffner admitted.

The city plans to seek a renewal of the grant after its reviews statistics on the impact Donnelly's work has on police interaction with at-risk youth.

Apartments Found for Evicted Homeless

Edith Brady-Lunny

The Pantagraph

Several of the 14 homeless residents forced to move from a camp on Bloomington's west side may move into apartments soon, largely funded by donations collected in the last two weeks since news coverage of the encampment began.

The owner of the winter encampment of homeless men and women insisted last week the people clear off his almost 6-acre lot on West Market Street. Citing liability concerns, Carl Thomas said the people must move. Police and workers from PATH (Providing Access to Help) told the homeless group Friday they had until Monday to relocate.

McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage said the last person in the group was packing up Monday morning and preparing to leave. 

Work to find apartments for several of the men was put on a fast track Monday, said PATH's Lori Kimbrough.

"Some are on the verge of being able to get an apartment. We are doing what we can to speed up that process," she said. Money from the agency's rental assistance fund, coupled with donations that continue to come into PATH, are being used to cover rent deposits and other expenses, she said.

Kimbrough said donations and offers to help have been steady since recent stories in The Pantagraph about the camp. In her conversations with the encampment residents, Kimbrough learned most were not aware of the rental assistance program.

People who still want to help can contact the agency at or call 309-828-1022 or 309-828-1022

Workers with PATH's outreach program for the homeless also are trying to help the others living outdoors, but some have barriers that are tough to overcome.

Four of the men are registered sex offenders, leaving them with very limited housing options, and others have a history of violence or poor credit records.

"Some people have larger hurdles," said Kimbrough. 

The Salvation Army in Bloomington reported Monday that one person came to the shelter from the camp late last week before the relocation order was issued.

Not Loving It? Have "Coffee With a Cop"

In an ongoing effort to build a constructive dialogue with the community, McLean County police departments will share java and jawbone with residents March 13.

Representatives from Bloomington, Normal, and Illinois State University police departments and the McLean County Sheriff's Department will participate in Coffee with a Cop -- an extension of a national program -- from 7 to 10 a.m. that Friday at McDonald's, 525 Brock Drive, Bloomington.

McDonald's will provide free coffee to all who attend.

Coffee with a Cop was started by a California police department in 2011 as part of its community policing effort, and today, some 175 communities in 36 states offer Coffee with a Cop programs. Sara Mayer, public affairs officer with the Bloomington police, maintains the relaxed sitdown can improve community relations.

"You don't call 911 when everything is going well," Mayer notes. "This allows a one-on-one, builds partnerships and trust."

ISU police have met with students in a similar fashion for a couple of years, a few times each semester. "It's a good opportunity to see us in more of an approachable venue ... in this case, a relaxed environment," Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said.

Police and the Percentages

Nationally, African-Americans make up 11 percent, and Latinos make up 9 percent of police agencies in communities with more than 250,000 residents. How do the Twin Cities and McLean County fare?

The Bloomington Police Department is ramping up efforts to add diversity in new officers. Here's a breakdown of the number of minorities, women, and white officers employed with local law enforcement agencies, compiled by The Pantagraph:

• Among Normal Police Department's 83 officers, there are two African-American officers, one Hispanic female and one Asian male. Seventy officers (84 percent) are white males and nine (11 percent) are white females. (The NPD currently is over its full complement of 81 officers because several are about to retire).

• Bloomington Police's full complement is 128 officers, but four have not been replaced. The 124 officers include four (3.2 percent) male Latinos and two (1.6 percent) African-American male officers, including Chief Brendan Heffner. A third African-American officer recently retired after 30 years. There are 115 (92.7 percent) white male and three (2.4 percent) white female officers.

• None of McLean County sheriff's patrol deputies are minorities. The department has 53 officer positions, but only 44 are filled: 43 are white males; there is one white female.

• Illinois State University's Police Department has 27 officers. Three (11 percent) are African-American males, 18 (67 percent) are white males and six (22 percent) are white females. 

Demographically, McLean County is 80.5 percent white; 7.7 percent African-American, 5.2 percent Asian, 4.7 percent Hispanic or Latino and 51.2 percent female, according to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Other area police departments have a similar shortage of minority officers.

Of the Champaign Police Department's 123 officers, 99 (80.5 percent) are white males, 10 (8 percent) are white females, three (2.4 percent) are Hispanic males, one is an Hispanic female, two (or 1.6 percent) are Asian males and eight (6.5 percent), including Chief Anthony Cobb, are African-American males.

Of the 241 Springfield police officers, 195 (81 percent are white males; 11 (4.6 percent) are African-American males; five (2 percent) are Hispanic males; and two are Asian males. Springfield also has 28 (11.6 percent) white female officers.

To explore opportunities in local law enforcement, visit the Bloomington Police recruitment page at