EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
This is part 2 of a series. In the first part I discussed the claims made in Heltsley's signature block (here). In this and future articles I will discuss the statements he makes in his letter.
Heltsley states that: "It has been reported that the Edgar County Board via the Edgar County Sheriff has entered into an informal agreement with Coles County Sheriff Darrell Cox to house inmates from Edgar County in the event the jail cannot operate due to lack of jail personnel. Does anyone out there other than myself find this disturbing?"
I find it disturbing...disturbing that you claim to have written this letter, but it reads like the anonymous letter sent out prior to the Primary Election.
I find it disturbing that this letter reads like you found out about the agreement by reading the newspaper and not from your fellow board members. Do they find you too repulsive to inform you of things that happen at meetings you miss? What other reason is there that you did not know about this?
I find it disturbing that you think prior planning for an event that everyone, except maybe you, knew was going to happen as soon as the Appellate Prosecutor received the investigative report of prisoner abuse. Do you think it should have been swept under the rug like it was under the Crippes and Farnham regimes?
I find it disturbing that you failed to include in your letter that the agreement was only for 90 days - enough time to advertise, hire, and train new jailers.
I find it disturbing that you cannot remember the meetings where this was discussed due to jail inspections. This is one of the items the county has failed for years, including prior to the current Sheriff. You seem to think people do not remember you voting on budget cuts, voting "no" on pay raises for Deputies, and claiming those jail inspections were just pencil-whipped with no real meaning - do you remember now? That was the meeting where you lied about retiring from IDOT (when you were fired instead) and used to sit right across the room from the DOC jail inspectors - only to be proven wrong and having to apologize to the other board members for lying to them. Read this article again and listen to the audio of Heltsley's own words, we even provide the public records from Department of Corrections proving he lied.
The people of Edgar County should be proud that their Sheriff saw an unplanned event unfolding, took the initiative that any responsible person should have taken, and developed a plan to work through what he knew would become a shortage of jail personnel. He had the prisoner abuse incident investigated, the results sent up to the State's Attorney, and from there to the Appellate Prosecutor's Office.
We should be thankful that this incident was not swept under the rug, but instead is in the hands of the prosecutor. There were no offers to "resign with dignity", and there was no consideration to the consequences of personnel shortage. Some things are too important to screw around with, and prisoner abuse is one of them.
I find it disturbing that you did not bother to tell the readers the reason the jail is short of jailers is because two of them were allegedly involved in prisoner abuse and are no longer employed with the Sheriff's Department. Without funds to hire additional jailers - partly do to YOU not providing enough funds to hire them, losing more than one at a time creates a critical shortage - like we have today.
Finally, I find it disturbing that you try to insinuate you didn't know there is no money in the budget to hire extra jailers as a "just in case" two of them quit at the same time. You look at the budget every month, you have known since you were sworn in there was no money to hire extra people, but you claim this is surprising to you.
Yes, I find it disturbing.
Edited to add the video of the September 22, 2014 meeting where this was discussed, and to add a link to a previous article: