Jim Reilly, a deputy with the Will County Sheriff’s Office since 2013, may not have been with the county for a long time, but his experience and education in law enforcement goes back nearly 30 years.
He was with the Joliet police for eight years, taught classes at the Wilco Area Career Center, and now is studying for a doctorate in criminal justice.
In March, Reilly won the Republican nomination to run against Sheriff Mike Kelley, his boss, in the November election. Herald-News reporter Alex Ortiz caught up with Reilly to talk about the issues he’s focused on in the race.
Ortiz: What are you focusing on in your research for your doctoral?
Reilly: I’m working on my dissertation, which is on methods law enforcement can utilize to improve community relationships. So a large part of my educational background that I want to bring to the position of sheriff is working closely with the community. I definitely am a supporter of community policing where we go out into the community, identify quality of life issues or criminal behaviors and not just respond to calls for service, but also look at the underlying issues and address them.
Ortiz: What would you do differently than the current administration with regard to combating the opioid crisis?
Reilly: This administration has alienated our working relationships with other police departments and that has hampered out ability to come together as law enforcement agencies. Drug dealers go everywhere. So the dealers who may live in the county, are dealing their drugs in the city and the dealers who live in the city are dealing their drugs out in the county. Of course, the sheriff is a very important job. It’s a job that needs to work closely with other agencies.
Ortiz: Isn’t it odd that politics is involved when county residents have to elect a sheriff every four years?
Reilly: It is unfortunate, but I definitely agree with the election of a sheriff because I think [we should] let the people pick who they want to represent their county. People should decide if education is important to them, if experience is important to them, or if political patronage is important to them. I don’t mind the election part of it. I don’t like the partisanship of it. I wish I didn’t have to be a Republican or a Democrat because once I take office, I’m neither one of those. I represent everybody.