Interview with Dusty Terrill by Cala Smoldt
Name: Dustin Terrill (Dusty)
Family: Wife — Amy Terrill, Wellness Director at Brookstone Aledo; Kaiden, 10-year-old son; and currently Max, 16-year-old cultural exchange student
Education: Graduated from Westmer in 1994, received associates degree in Law Enforcement Justice Administration from Black Hawk College and attended 25 semester hours toward my bachelor degree with Western Illinois University.
Occupation: deputy sheriff assigned to investigations as a detective
Relevant Experience: I have been employed by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department beginning in 1997 as telecommunicator, appointed as deputy 2000, and promoted to detective in 2010. I am a State Certified Lead Homicide Investigator, a DARE instructor to Mercer County and Sherrard School Districts, a Juvenile Police Officer, a certified instructor in the principles of ALICE (violent intruder training for our local schools), a child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse forensic interviewer, Chairman of the Mercer County Family Violence Coordinating Council, currently a part-time City of Aledo Police Officer, a Deputy Coroner, and a member of the Henry/Mercer County Investigative Task Force.
* Why are you running?
I am running to make Mercer County a better and safer place for my son, my family, and the entire population of Mercer County. I am running because I feel that the priorities I would set for the Sheriff’s Office would put the citizens of Mercer County first.
* What would you focus on and hope to accomplish?
I would focus on improving the efficiency of the Sheriff’s Office, using every means available to combat substance abuse, and improve the relationship between the citizens and the Sheriff’s Office.
I feel with Mercer County’s limited resources, and already high taxes, increases in efficiencies within the department are needed to improve services to the people who need them without increasing costs. I will restructure the Sheriff’s Office personnel to equalize the amount of deputies available to patrol and provide service during the day and throughout overnight. I will be a sheriff that is in uniform and have a marked squad car ready to answer calls for service and insist that my Chief Deputy do the same. I do not feel that it is efficient to have six sworn law enforcement officers on duty during the day and only two during most of the night.
I will try new ways to battle the drug abuse epidemic in Mercer County. Simply arresting, releasing, only to arrest again over and over is obviously not effective. Performing the same actions and expecting a different result does not solve our problem. We have to try something new. I strongly advocate consequences for actions and the arrests for drug offenses, but we need to add an element in an attempt to get these drug addicts out of the cycle of addiction. I have already begun and will continue to meet with citizens, church groups and other civic organizations to develop a plan to help these drug addicts improve their lives and break that cycle. I will work together with Probation and Court Services as a team to hold those on probation accountable for the conditions that they agree to while on probation, and if they violate those terms, I will be a strong voice to our courts to hold them accountable.
I feel we need to work toward building the trust of the citizens we serve. I believe programs such as D.A.R.E. build trust with the youth of our county. I believe promoting a positive presence in our community is important. I would work to build this trust by attending local festivals, sporting events, municipal meetings and visiting all of our schools and encouraging feedback from the people we serve. I will meet with those people to help them learn what they can do to help law enforcement solve the problems we face. This battle must be a team effort — it cannot be won if we view each other as an enemy. I want to hear the issues the citizens are facing and work together to find a solution. I believe by being those trusted figures in our community, the level of cooperation provided to the sheriff’s office will improve. A higher level of cooperation with law enforcement will help reduce and solve crime. I think that 16,000 sets of eyes (the residents of Mercer County) are much better at seeing what is going on than only 12 sets (Mercer County deputies).
* In your view, what are the biggest issues facing the sheriff’s department at this time and how do you propose to solve those?
I think the biggest issue facing the Sheriff’s Office is drug abuse within the county. Drug addiction not only tears apart families but is the driving force of many other types of crime. The power of the drug drives those addicted to commit some of the terrible, violent crime that we have seen this previous year to the dozens of thefts and burglaries that cause good hard-working people of Mercer County to lose thousands of dollars. I know that methamphetamine captures a lot of headlines and is a huge problem, but that is not our only drug problem. I have been involved in the investigation into several deaths in Mercer County that have been attributed to opiates and opioids such as heroin, the combination of heroin and fentanyl, as well as prescription drugs and methamphetamine. These other drugs should not be overlooked. They all need to be given attention. I will work to solve these issues by putting into place the ideas I mentioned above. I will work to improve the deputies’ ability to patrol by restructuring the organization. I will work with probation and the citizens to hold people accountable for their actions. I will prove to the citizens through action that we are on the same team with the same goal to improve our way of life in Mercer County.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my views. I ask for your support and vote to give me the opportunity to serve the people as your sheriff.