A third Republican has announced he wants to be McDonough County's next sheriff. Bryan Baca lives in Macomb and works for the Illinois Department of Corrections as the Operations Warden at the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton.
Baca previously worked as the corrections department's regional coordinator, tasked with ensuring correctional facilities in west central Illinois followed state and department rules.
Baca has both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Western Illinois University. He started his career in law enforcement in the late 1980s working as military police in the army. He went on to work for several police departments in the region, often specializing in the K-9 unit.
He said if elected sheriff, he would put more emphasis on rural areas in the county and making sure the department serves all its residents. Baca said many small communities and villages lack a local police force and rely heavily on the sheriff’s office.
“We are the McDonough County Sheriff’s Department. We need to be out there in the county doing what we do,” Baca said. “Protecting citizens and having a presence because having a presence alone will deter a lot of crime. But if you’re not out there, it’s an open door policy to do what you want, so you have to be seen.”
Baca said if elected he would also:
- Establish a community advisory committee made of up representatives from rural parts of the county so that the office can be better informed about what’s going on.
- Expand the prison inmate work program to more communities. He said the program provides a way for an inmate to give back while also putting taxpayer money to good use.
- Work to provide officers and jail guards more training in mental health services.
“We have to have our deputies trained in mental health. We have got to make them crisis team members where they can go in and do an intervention and get the proper paper work started and get the offenders that we are charged with housing and keeping safe, the care that they need,” Baca said.
Baca grew up in Bushnell and held his campaign announcement at the community's V.F.W. He will face off against two other candidates in the Republican primary next year. Both currently work for the Sheriff's Department: Detective Justin Lundgren and Chief Deputy Nick Petitgout.
Current Sheriff Rick VanBrooker announced he will not seek re-election.