URBANA - Like chief executive officers everywhere in a recession, Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh is shuffling resources to get more work out of the same number of employees.
Most of the changes the new sheriff has made will take place around July 1.
Foremost is that Walsh, who's been sheriff since Dec. 1, has resurrected the position of chief deputy and conferred the title upon his longtime friend and campaign manager Walter Wolfe.
Former Sheriff David Madigan never put anyone in the chief deputy's spot when Gary Turner left the office for a new job about four years ago.
Madigan used that money for more road deputies and in May 2001 hired former Rantoul Police Chief Allen Jones to be a personnel director of sorts. Jones left that post last October.
"One of the main reasons I feel I need a chief deputy," Walsh said, "is if I'm sick or out of town, right now there's really nobody in charge of everything."
Wolfe has been with the sheriff's office since 1975, working in a number of roles from jailer to road deputy to detective.
He served on the Major Case Squad in the early '80s, a multijurisdictional unit of top area detectives primarily assigned to solving homicides; on the Interagency Task Force from 1987 to 1990, another multijurisdictional police unit devoted to drug crimes; as head of the sheriff's investigations division in 1990; and since 1995, has been the captain who oversees both investigations and patrol.
"I will have some say or advice on what to do with court security and corrections that I didn't have before," Wolfe said of his new duties.
The three lieutenants on board will take on more administrative duties, such as vehicle repair, training and "all the business aspects that come along with running a sheriff's office," Walsh said.
Kris Bolt, who's been on the road, will move into investigations as the supervisor; Chuck Deakin will remain as the lieutenant supervising the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift; and Steve Malloch will be over the two shifts from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. He will choose what hours he works, Walsh said.
One of Walsh's changes involves resurrecting the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. "power shift." Wolfe said four deputies will be assigned to that shift in an attempt to cut down on the overtime that is often incurred for deputies who handle calls later in the evening on the 3 to 11 p.m. shift.
"We've had them off and on over the years," said Wolfe, but they've been pulled off to cover holes in other shifts, he said.
In addition to the four sergeants currently on staff, Walsh has promoted three more deputies to sergeant so that each shift will have two sergeants. Those receiving promotions are Ed Ogle, on staff since 1985; Allen Jones, on staff since 1988, first as a correctional officer and as a road deputy since 1991; and Brian Mennenga, on staff since 1990, first as a correctional officer and as a road deputy since 1992.
Walsh has assigned his seventh sergeant, Tim Voges, to what he's calling "the green team," a unit of three officers plus Voges to work on pattern crimes.
"If we have a particular problem, for example, a dozen car burglaries in St. Joseph, those guys will be out in unmarked cars in St. Joe the next night. They will normally be assigned to investigations to help them, but they will be doing a lot of street work," he said.
The other major change internally for the sheriff's office that will be obvious to the deputies but not necessarily to the public is how civil papers are served.
The sheriff's office has the responsibility for service of summons, orders of protection, notice of foreclosures and the like. In the past, a unit of five has handled that. Walsh intends to take all those men and put them in uniform back on the road and assign the duty of serving papers to all road deputies.
Two deputies will continue to have the primary job of serving civil papers during the day but they will be in uniform and available as back-up to answer other types of calls for service.
Early this month, Walsh reinstituted a process of sending out postcards to people who have summonses, telling them to come pick them up at the sheriff's office. So far, that's had an 80 percent to 90 percent success rate, he said.
He is also looking into, but hasn't implemented yet, taking reports for minor, non-violent crimes by phone. "We're still putting that together to figure out what calls are appropriate," he said.
Wolfe noted that the two deputies currently assigned full time to St. Joseph-Ogden High School and Unity High School in Tolono will remain in those posts. They will be assigned more juvenile crime cases to help take the load off investigations.
"We're getting back into law enforcement. We're trying to do more with less because we're not going to get any more," Wolfe said.
The number of sworn personnel, including the sheriff, is 53.
You can reach Mary Schenk at (217) 351-5313 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.