McDonogh County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker announced this month he will retire when his current term expires at the end of November 2018. His number two in command has followed up quickly with the announcement that he wants to replace VanBrooker.
Chief Deputy Nick Petitgout has been with the sheriff’s office since 2007. He is a Marine Corps Veteran and graduate of Western Illinois University’s law enforcement program.
Petitgout said he has three main priorities if elected.
1.) He wants to expand the inmate work program. The program has groups of low-risk inmates complete community service projects around the county such as painting, general maintenance work or event set up.
“It gives these inmates, people who are struggling a bit, the opportunity to meet people in the community who may give them a job someday. We feel like that helps us tremendously in the effort to stop crime. If we can give them some sort of skill or even an inside track to a job. It keeps people off the street and outside of our jail,” Petitgout said.
2.) He wants to work with the public defender’s office and states attorney’s office to establish an ankle bracelet monitoring program, which he believes would save money.
“Get them back out into their homes and have a way to keep track of when they are out. This would only be for very low level, misdemeanor people who were unable to bond out of jail and some low-level drug crimes,” Petitgout said.
3.) He wants to create a merit board for the Sheriff’s Office to assist with hiring new deputies. Petitgout said he would seek out 3-5 people from the county to participate in the hiring process to ensure the community has a voice in the process.
Petitgout is running as a Republican. He said the toughest challenges facing the sheriff’s office include the lack of a state budget, a declining population in the county, and falling sales tax revenue, which he said is likely to result in budget cuts down the road.
“I feel like I am the man for the job, I can guide us through these times and make some progress in these challenging times and turn that into a positive,” Petitgout adding he hopes that “Making Progress in Challenging Times” becomes a theme of his campaign.