Benjamin F. Pike was the first County Sheriff elected in Rock Island County in 1833. Since then, there have been 51 County Sheriffs elected in Rock Island County. Gerald Bustos has been Rock Island County Sheriff since 2014. In July of 2021, Sheriff Bustos announced after over 38 years of service in the Rock Island County Sheriff's office, he would not seek re-election in 2022. Sheriff Bustos is married to Illinois Congressional District 17 Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who also announced she would not be running for re-election for the U.S. House in 2022. The Rock Island County Sheriff is elected to serve every four years.
In 2022, there are three candidates vying for the County Sheriff office, which is a politically partisan election. For the Republican party, the only primary candidate on the ballot is Patrick Moody of Andalusia, Illinois. His Web site is MoodyForSheriff.com.
For the Democrat party, the two primary candidates on the ballot are Darren Hart of Hampton, Illinois, and Marcus Herbert of East Moline, Illinois. Their respective Web sites are HartForSheriff.com and Facebook.com/herbertforsheriff.
The River Cities' Reader asked these candidates for Rock Island County Sheriff 14 questions covering four topics and invited them to add an additional comment on any topic(s) of their choice. We greatly appreciate each candidate's participation. One of these three candidates will be the Rock Island County Sheriff for the next four years. Here's your chance to learn how each views the office and their role, should they prevail.
Personal Choice Regarding Vaccines
Background: Congress passed and President Reagan signed into law the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986 (42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34). (RCReader.com/y/ncvia) This law shielded vaccine makers from being sued and set up a fund that has paid out over $4 billion to families whose children have been harmed or killed by a vaccine they took. This law was challenged and upheld in the Supreme Court in 2011. (RCReader.com/y/ncvia2)
Meanwhile, global foundations, vaccine-industry thought leaders, federal, and state and local health officials have advocated for the concept of a COVID-19 vaccine passport or certificate that proves one has been vaccinated in order to continue employment, access public and private services and businesses, and in order for one's children to attend a public or private school.
Given the blanket immunity that vaccine manufacturers enjoy, and the subsequent COVID-19 vaccine mandates attempted by both private and government bodies, please answer the following:
Question 1: If local, state, or federal health officials decree that Americans must comply with mandatory vaccinations, would you support or oppose using the county sheriff's resources and personnel to enforce such a mandate?
Moody: The current data and evidence does not justify mandatory vaccines. Everyone should have the right to informed choice. Furthermore, it would be a logistical nightmare to enforce testing and such measures would be a clear overreach from the government.
Hart: I would oppose the use Sheriff’s Office resources or personnel to enforce such mandates.
Herbert: I support vaccinations but would oppose a mandate. I feel it is up to the individual on whether or not they would like to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Question 2: If you do support a mandatory vaccination or biological test result for all or any specific segment of the American populace, for which Rock Island County citizens qualify, for any reason or under a specified health crisis, please share the source for such constitutional and/or administrative authority (e.g. county, state, federal) to enforce such a mandate, and please include under what type of order or directive (e.g. county board policy, state health department declaration, federal agency guideline) you would require in order to enforce any restrictions of citizens' lawful activities, commerce, education, or travel in Rock Island County, Illinois, who do not comply with said mandate.
Moody: See answer to question 1 above.
Hart: While I support vaccinations, that is a personal choice. As Sheriff, I would not authorize resources be used to enforce mandatory vaccinations or biological testing.
Herbert: I would not use the Sheriff’s Office resources to enforce a mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Question 3: Under what circumstances would you utilize the County Sheriff's resources to enforce certain businesses must comply with so called “lock-down” order to cease business operations due to not being designated an “essential business” by any government body?
Moody: The Sheriff’s Department would not close any businesses during this pandemic. This matter would be left to the health department, which should be handled with Notice to Appears. From there, it would be handled through the courts. This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. It would become criminal if a Judge signed a warrant for Contempt of Court. In this case, the Sheriff’s Department would act on such warrants.
Hart: I am not in support of using law enforcement resources to impose lock-down orders against businesses. If a situation presented itself, as Sheriff, I and/or my staff would evaluate and determine the health and safety risks posed, and consult with the Rock Island County States Attorney’s Office for legal direction on the matter.
Herbert: I would not use the Sheriff’s Office resources to enforce “lock down” orders for “non-essential” businesses. We cannot pick and choose which businesses are essential.
Governance & Authority
Background: In the 1977 Printz-Mack v U.S. case, the Supreme Court ruled that the two Sheriffs petitioning the court had standing, and were constitutionally compliant in their refusal to enforce or administer a Federal directive. (RCReader.com/y/mack)
“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the State's officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed.”
Question 4: What office comprises the chief law enforcement officer (LEO) in Rock Island County, and why?
Moody: The Sheriff is the lawful Chief Executive Officer in Rock Island County. The Sheriff oversees public safety (patrol), jail, courthouse, and dispatch. The Sheriff’s jurisdiction is equal within the county, including all municipalities and townships. The Sheriff works directly for the citizens of the county as he or she is the only LEO elected by the citizens.
Hart: The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer (LEO) in Rock Island County.
Herbert: The Sheriff constitutes as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the County in which that Sheriff is elected by the people. This is important for the fact that we are held accountable for our actions and policy by the same individuals who placed us in office. This is the power that has been afforded to every citizen.
Question 5: Given this 1997 Supreme Court decision, what agreements currently exist between the Rock Island County Sheriff's office and any of its vendors, suppliers, consultants, grantors, and/or state or federal agencies that waives, or suspends temporarily or in perpetuity, the County Sheriff's authority as a State officer upheld in Printz-Mack v U.S. cited above? (For example: conditions contained in “Certified Assurances” or requirements for obtaining a Homeland Security grant.)
Moody: I’m unaware of any agreements as I’m not privy to them at this time.
Hart: There are no agreements or restrictions currently in place that I am aware of that in any way limit the statutory authority provided to the Office of Sheriff of Rock Island County.
Herbert: I currently do not have access to any of our contracts with vendors or state/federal agencies. We do receive grants to purchase equipment and enforce traffic laws. The “Certified Assurance” in these contracts should not suspend the Sheriff’s authority. (City of Chicago v Barr) focused on immigration but provided the ruling that states the federal government cannot withhold federal funding due to non compliance.
Question 6: Under what circumstances, if any, would you consider ceding the County Sheriff's authority to a state or federal agency appropriate and/or justified?
Moody: As Sheriff, its important to me to have a close working relationship with other law enforcement agencies. But … I would not enforce state or federal mandates that do not match up with the constitution. If other agencies wish to enforce such questionable mandates, the Sheriff’s Department will not be involved in a conflict or confrontation with such efforts. The courts will ultimately weigh in on the legality of their actions.
Hart: As Sheriff of Rock Island County, I would not cede authority of the Office to a state and/or federal Agency.
Herbert: As Sheriff, I would not waive authority.
Rock Island County Grand Jury
The Rock Island County Web site states in part: “A grand jury has broad powers to investigate a wide range of criminal offenses and to examine the performance of public officials and public institutions.” (Source: Co.Rock-Island.Il.us/JuryDuty/FAQs/)
The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts' grand juror handbook reads in part: “However, the grand jury possesses broad powers of its own to inquire into crime and corruption in its jurisdiction. It has a right under the law to make its own investigation unaided by the Court and assisted by any prosecuting attorney.” (Source: 19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us/DocumentCenter/View/109/A-Handbook-for-Grand-Jurors-in-Illinois-PDF?bidId=)
Question 7: When a duly sworn Rock Island County Grand Jury contacts the Rock Island County Sheriff for assistance in investigating alleged crimes, and this investigation is independent of the Rock Island County Attorney's initiative or participation, will you as County Sheriff assist the Grand Jury with such matters as serving and enforcing subpoenas for the Grand Jury's investigation?
Moody: Yes, we are officers of the court.
Hart: I would direct the service and enforcement of subpoenas issued through a lawful Grand Jury process.
Herbert: Yes. We will assist the Grand Jury in serving and enforcing those subpoenas.
Question 8: If no, why not? If yes, and the Grand Jury's subsequent investigation results in probable cause for an indictment and due process for the accused, will you also enforce the Grand Jury's indictment or True Bill, and arrest and incarcerate the accused, so that due process can ensue?
Moody: Yes. The length of time for incarceration (bond, no bond, etc) would depend on the Judge’s decision.
Hart: If the Grand Jury process produced an indictment, and a subsequent arrest warrant was issued by the Court; yes, the Sheriff’s Office would serve the warrant to include incarceration in lieu of bond listed.
Herbert: Yes. An arrest warrant will be issued and served by our personnel.
Property Rights & Privacy
Question 9: Do you consider an individual's body his/her own private property?
Hart: Yes, I do.
Herbert: Yes. An individual's body is his/her/they/their private property. Which is protected by the 4th Amendment.
Question 10: What is the probable cause standard for obtaining a warrant to search constitutionally protected private property of a resident of Rock Island County, Illinois, as defined by the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions?
Moody: There are four categories into which evidence may fall in when establishing Probable Cause. These include observational, circumstantial, expertise, and information. Observational evidence is based on what the officer sees, smells, or hears. With that said, all cases are different based off facts and circumstances. That is why a Judge is required to approve such search warrants.
Hart: Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure states: A written complaint under oath or affirmation to a judge that states facts sufficient to show probable cause and which particularly describes the place or person, or both, to be searched and items to be seized.
Herbert: (Coolidge v Hampshire) ruled that a warrant must be issued by a neutral and detached judge to assure probable cause exist. Officers must have supportive evidence, sworn statements and must be descriptive in the place or person that will be searched. (Groh v Ramirez) ruled that if the warrant lacks information, that warrant is unlawful.
Question 11: Under what circumstances is it appropriate and legal to conduct warrantless surveillances or searches, whether physically or virtually upon a Rock Island County citizen's private property?
Moody: The exigent circumstances doctrine excuses compliance with the Fourth Amendment warrant clause in four general circumstances. When an officer is in hot pursuit of a fleeing felon. When it is necessary to prevent imminent destruction of evidence. To prevent a suspect’s escape and to prevent physical harm to officers or other persons.
Hart: A warrantless search is appropriate and legal under exigent circumstances to protect an individual’s life and to provide for the safety and well-being of all persons.
Herbert: Exigent circumstances only.
Question 12: Approximately what dollar amount of the County Sheriff Office's annual budget is allocated to deputies serving notification to employers to enforce court orders for garnishment of wages, specifically associated with unsecured credit card debt collection?
Moody: I’m unaware what is allocated for such services but I’d entertain other options that could possibly save tax dollars. If possible, I would consider handling such duties electronically rather than using deputies to serve such notifications.
Hart: The Sheriff’s Office does not track the service of civil process specific to wage garnishment relating to unsecured credit card debt. To report an accurate dollar figure, an audit of all wage garnishment papers specific to this area would need to occur.
Herbert: We currently have two full time Deputies that work our civil division who assist the courts to assure those civil papers get served. As far as the dollar amount that’s allocated, being a candidate for Sheriff, I am unsure of the exact dollar amount. There is a fee that goes along with service to offset any amount of the Sheriff’s Office budget that is allocated to such service.
Question 13: Do you support or oppose asset forfeiture only upon a conviction and not before a conviction? If yes, why, and if no, why not?
Moody: There are basically two types of forfeitures. In criminal forfeiture, the government takes property after obtaining a conviction, as part of the defendant’s sentence. In civil forfeiture, a criminal charge or conviction is not needed. The government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime. I fully support asset forfeitures to fight crime and I have done this myself numerous times throughout my law enforcement career. Example: While working for the Moline Police Department, I worked a Residential Burglary case and seized the suspect's car that he used in commission of the mentioned crime. The seizure was more damaging to the suspect that his criminal disposition in court. Therefore, criminals are notorious for renting cars rather than using their own vehicles when committing crimes. I will utilize this vital tool (asset forfeitures) to reduce crime in Rock Island County.
Hart: Asset forfeiture is a civil proceeding, separate and unrelated to any possible criminal charges, and at the discretion of the prosecuting entity.
Herbert: I support asset forfeiture upon conviction. If there are underlying circumstances as to which assets are held for evidentiary purposes, those assets will be held pending disposition of the court proceedings.
Question 14: What issues within the sheriff's office/department are the most pressing that voters should be concerned about, and what is your stance on those issues?
Moody: The Sheriff's Department has many issues, but one major concern is shared with other local law enforcement agencies as well. It's extremely difficult to hire "qualified candidates" due to recent events that crippled the law enforcement community. Fewer people are willing to commit to a career that has been unfairly demonized or lacking support, especially in the last two years. The hiring problem has become more problematic for the Sheriff's Department when filling positions in the jail (Correctional Officer). The ideas I want to introduce are big and small, but each change plays a significant role to make the department more appealing to work for. My candidacy is unique as I offer a new set of eyes, considering I worked for a very active and busy department (Moline PD) that was huge on training and community policing concepts. My ideas will greatly improve hiring practices and improve morale concerns throughout the Sheriff's Department. I will use my platform in such a way that will build better connections with the public but address problems and concerns that make the job as a Deputy Sheriff/Police Officer or Correctional Officer tougher in today's environment. Lastly, I will be outspoken and use the platform as Sheriff in such a way that has never been seen before. I will bring a more conservative voice that has been missing in Rock Island County for many years but is needed now more than ever before.
Hart: Job recruitment, hiring, and retention of employees will be the most pressing issue facing the Sheriff’s Office in the years ahead. The public-safety profession is struggling nationally to attract individuals who want to serve their communities. We see this trend locally. I commit to providing immediate resources to fill these critical positions. As staffing levels stabilize, reductions in overtime costs, use sick leave, and employee burnout will improve.
Herbert: Recidivism: We have a County Jail that lacks programs. The incarcerated have no direction/guidance on how to curb behavior. The GED program has been absent in our County Jail. A proper drug treatment program has been absent in our County Jail. My plan puts in place these programs that have been missing.
Mental Health: With the lack of State funding to institutions and services that can better assist individuals with mental illness, we have dealt with an influx of individuals who just want help. With jail being the only option sometimes, that makes some worse. Jail should be the last place for individuals who just want help due to a medical condition.
Recruitment: We are experiencing issues with recruitment just like every other agency. There are ways we can modernize our recruitment practices. We currently don’t do enough to recruit. I believe the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office is one the best agencies around. With that said, we have always had an issue attracting new employees. My goal is to put a recruitment team in place who can specialize in ways to attract new employees.
Retainment: This falls solely on us (the Sheriff’s Office). It is our job to keep employees especially those who have left with several dedicated years with the Sheriff’s Office. If employees are unhappy, we need to find out the reason as to why. Our Correctional staff is currently facing retainment issues. Which is forcing some to work multiple 16-hour shifts weekly. The retainment issue is caused by multiple factors, but one is being overworked. As Sheriff, it is my job to maintain staffing levels and assure our current staff is not overworked.
Building community trust: Another area that we lack is community involvement. We have not been very active in our community. An active Sheriff’s Office can curb crime and instill community trust.