My name is Thomas Schneider and I am the Macon County Sheriff. I began my career working in the old Macon County Jail in 1988, after being hired by Sheriff Lee Holsapple. At that time the Macon County Jail was located at the Macon County Courthouse. I had the opportunity to learn what incarceration was like in an environment that reflected the history of the Sheriff's Office from several decades before, and to the present.
In 1989 we moved into the new jail, which is located above the Law Enforcement Center on Franklin Street in Decatur. We went from manual hand levers that operated the cell block at the old jail to electronic doors and video camera's at the new jail. I began my first leg in what would be an interesting and rewarding career at the Macon County Sheriff's Office. The first chance for advancement came in the way of testing for the position of Macon County Sheriff's Deputy. I successfully passed the testing process on my first attempt and was the second selection from the eligibility list in April 1990.
My salary as a correctional officer in 1988 was $12,600 and my salary when I made it as a Deputy Sheriff was $16,500. Everyone back then chose to work a second job to make a decent salary, so I began working for the Decatur Housing Authority as a Hire-back Officer in Longview. Working as a Hire-back Officer in Longview allowed me to work with City, County, and the State Police in an environment which gave me experience of being an inner city police officer. We were one of the first true community policing projects and were recognized nationally regarding the program, which to this day is a model for other communities. Working as a Deputy Sheriff in the early 1990's helped shape my decision making skills and problem solving, to which I use daily as the Sheriff.
I was a very active Deputy Sheriff and in 1994 I was appointed to the position of Detective. I loved to interrogate suspects and I found great successes in gaining confessions from those that I communicated with. After working two years as a Detective I was appointed to the original Slover Homicide Task Force. This task force was comprised of multiple city, county, state and federal officers. This task force eventually arrested three suspects, which led to their conviction for homicide. I actively worked this case full time, until being promoted to Sergeant by Sheriff Lee Holsapple in 1997.
As a Sergeant I was assigned to the patrol Division and worked each shift as a mid line supervisor. I enjoyed being on patrol and had the desire to be a leader for the other officers. I was active in DUI enforcement and developed a community policing program called BADD (Businesses Against Drunk Driving). This program targeted businesses that were open late at night and encouraged them to report drunk drivers. I received a distinguished service award from the State of Illinois Chapter of MADD for this program.
In 1999 I was promoted to Lieutenant by Sheriff Roger Walker Jr. I eventually worked as a Lieutenant on each patrol shift, during a time when the shortfall in the budget caused a layoff of several deputies, correctional officers and civilian staff. We operated on funds that were impossible to envision, but we still were able to provide quality services. This time period felt like a lifetime, but it was short lived due to the public safety tax being passed and the restoring of all personnel. I eventually was appointed as the patrol commander, where I oversaw the patrol operations and was responsible for the supervision of 30 deputy sheriff's. In addition to the patrol staff I was responsible for the supervision of the court officers at the court house, as the patrol commander.
In 2005 I was appointed to the Jail Warden's position. I supervised a jail staff of over 75 officers and at times over 300 inmates. As the jail warden I enjoyed the challenges faced daily regarding overcrowding issues and interpersonal relationships. While working as the Jail Warden I was involved in overseeing the construction and renovation of the old Bivens Whitten Juvenile Center, which was being converted into the adult female wing of the Macon County Jail. I worked with the architects and skilled union labor to convert this into a modern correctional facility, which included the addition of over 160 cameras and video visitation.
In 2007 I was promoted to Chief Deputy by Sheriff Jerry Dawson. As the Chief Deputy I learned first hand what it was like to be the Sheriff. Sheriff Dawson was committed to developing his admistrative staff for the future. He didn't hesitate to put officers thru training that he felt would be beneficial to the department's professionalism. I was the first command officer in the department's history to graduate from the Northwestern University Staff and Command School, which was 400 hours of upper level college training in police administration.
In 2008 I was appointed unanimously by the Macon County Board to complete Sheriff Dawson's term, which will end in November 2010. I have overseen an approximate $10,000,000.00 budget, returning unused taxpayer money in FY08 and FY09. I've instituted voluntary inmate work crews that have begun cleaning up Macon County. When working as the Jail Warden we developed a computer program that was able to assist the Social Security Administration in eliminating benefits to inmates in custody. I began a Sheriff's Enforcement Team, which is conducting Drug Interdiction at the street level and also working special enforcement details. These are just a few of the ideas that I have had that have come to fruition. I am constantly attempting to be progressive and responsive.
Sheriff Thomas Schneider