Chief deputy to seek sheriff's office in 2014
TUSCOLA — Peter Buckley, chief deputy of the Douglas County sheriff's office, has announced he will run for sheriff next year.
Longtime Sheriff Charlie McGrew announced a week ago he won't seek a fourth term.
Buckley, 58, of Tuscola will run as a Republican in the March 2014 primary election.
He joined the Douglas County sheriff's office Jan. 1, 2011, as its chief deputy following a 24-year career with the FBI.
Having worked in both federal and local law enforcement, Buckley said, he likes the immediate impact that comes with working locally.
Federal investigations can take quite some time to see results, he said, and there were times he'd had to tell people he would have helped, but it wasn't an FBI matter.
"Here, it's one-stop shopping," Buckley said. "You feel kind of good about it — you see the immediate impact."
Buckley, who is married and has three children, received a bachelor's degree in law enforcement administration from Western Illinois University in 1977, went on to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army on active duty for two years and then spent four years serving in the Illinois National Guard.
He also holds a master's degree in counseling from the University of Illinois at Springfield and worked as a high school guidance counselor and track coach in Reddick.
His 30 years in law enforcement started in 1983 as a deputy with the McLean County sheriff's office. He joined the FBI as a special agent in 1986 and worked on all violations of federal law, including bank robberies, kidnappings, public corruption, street gang, terrorism and murder-for-hire cases, he said.
Buckley also says he's also part of a law enforcement family: His father was an FBI agent, and his son, Kurt, is a Champaign police officer.
The Douglas County sheriff's office employs 30 people and had an annual budget of $1.3 million last year — just above the $1.2 million budget in 2007, Buckley says.
He wants to continue to keep costs down, but he also wants to make sure Douglas County has the service it needs, he says.
Sometimes, there's just one deputy on duty for a county of 417 square miles, but good coordination with local police in Tuscola, Atwood, Arthur and Arcola means backup is available, "and of course, we do the same for them," he said.
Since he came to the Douglas County sheriff's office, Buckley said, he has started initiatives that have included increasing coordination with the Douglas County state's attorney's office through weekly meetings to review pending cases and prepare for prosecution.
He has also written a fraud reference guide about whom to contact and what action to take when becoming a victim of fraud. And he has started a system to track dates and times when deputies check homes for people on vacation and sends a letter to homeowners when they return, he said.