Western Courier

Letter to the Editor

The Editorial Board

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My names is James L. Hoyle and I served as McDonough County’s State’s Attorney for 12 years (2004 to 2016). In that time, I became very familiar with all three candidates for McDonough County Sheriff. I have worked successful cases with all three candidates as officers. I know their weaknesses and strengths. They are all qualified and well trained, despite subtle differences in their work experience and specialties. As the next sheriff, their leadership skills and character are going to be the most important and this where I see the big differences in these three candidates. Leadership skills, character and ability is why I am supporting Bryan Baca for the next McDonough County Sheriff.

While Justin Lundgren has been effective as a deputy, his time in a leadership role was plagued with personal issues and professional issues. Ultimately, he was demoted from his chief deputy position and he has lost the support of many friends in the department. He also worked on behalf of the present Sheriff to try to sabotage the prosecution of various methamphetamine cases being handled by the Macomb Police Department during my tenure.

Nicholas Petitgout was moderately effective as a deputy and investigator and slightly more effective as an administrator. However, he was prone to tirades and fits when promoted at such a young age. I have personally watched him berate staff and I have countless examples of him mistreating State’s Attorney staff. These unprofessional moments were often predicated on him not getting his way either from the State’s attorney’s staff or the Court. He is just not seasoned enough for the rigors and pressures that occur at the top spot. I also cannot forget one case that plagues me where he and the Sheriff lost a confession of a suspected arsonist during a motion to suppress because they didn’t follow proper procedures during and interview. Finally, I have recently listened to a 911 dispatch recording of Petitgout chastising a dispatcher and trying to cover up an emergency call about the Sheriff driving drunk. He should be investigated and asked to resign because of it. It is an unforgivable lapse of judgment.

As for Bryan Baca, I have known him all my life. I know him as a family man, a veteran, a police officer and in various positions within the Illinois Department of Corrections. His current position is Operations Warden at the Illinois River Correctional Center. He manages a facility with over 2,000 inmates, nearly 350 employees and a budget that dwarfs the McDonough County Sheriff’s budget. Running a small department like the McDonough County Sheriff will be easy for him in comparison, as McDonough County has ten percent of the employees and 30 inmates on average. Long before being an administrator he was a canine handler in the military and in corrections. As a certified K-9 trainer, he volunteered for free on multiple occasions to help our local K9 handlers get Illinois certification. This was a time when the courts were not accepting federal certifications and causing us problems in court. He saved many cases for us and was given an award by the McDonough County Sheriff.

As a full-time corrections employee for 25 years, he also worked part-time for various police departments, including Blandinsville and as the temporary Chief of Police in Augusta. Bryan Baca’s experience in patrol, K9 handling and administration makes him my choice over two other worthy candidates. Also, I believe the Department could use a fresh face and a perspective to eliminate the current bad blood and factions within the department. He also has no baggage to bring to the office.

James L. Hoyle

Macomb, Illinois

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Letter to the Editor