Illinois Sangamon County committee plans to review animal control

The Sangamon County Public Health Committee will consider contracting a familiar third-party group on Thursday to conduct a “top-down” review of Animal Control policies and procedures.

Allegations of misconduct have been raised in recent months by local animal rights groups and members of the Springfield City Council.

The committee will specifically review a review by Stratton, Moran, Reichert, Sronce & Appleton with a price not exceeding $24,000. The main work would be done by Joe Roesch, a labor attorney who previously served in the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office as a chief deputy and was captain of investigations.

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The request comes as the county awaits a report from the Illinois State Police regarding criminal negligence and another third-party report from a Chicago consulting firm that is reviewing the structure of other animal control agencies. in counties similar in size to Sangamon County.

County Administrator Brian McFadden agreed there was a need for a thorough review of policies and procedures, which would include employment and labor management issues, but could lead to areas such as shelter care.

“We clearly believe there are policies that need to be reviewed,” McFadden said, reached Wednesday. “There are issues and allegations that need to be looked at and other things that need attention and this is the best way to do that now.”

The allegations followed reports of dead cats that were in the care of Animal Control. The cats died of upper respiratory infections, county officials previously said.

Others, like Jane McBride, president of the Illinois Humane Society in Springfield, railed against Animal Control director Gregory Largent and insisted the office be moved from public health to the sheriff’s office.

“I’ve been telling them that for three or four years,” McBride said. “The biggest issue is management and leadership and that’s what Jack is good at, and I hope God Joe Roesch knows that and sees that.”

McFadden said Roesch would have up to six months to look at things that would start with some type of labor management.

Following this, McFadden said, there would be implementation of any changes or modifications to policies and procedures. The final step would be to monitor any changes, he added.

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“He has the authority to review things he deems relevant to the (office’s) mission,” McFadden added. “He’s not sent there to run the agency, but he’s sent there to do a very thorough review and review the policies and procedures and some of the allegations made.”

Animal Control has 13 employees and one temporary worker with a budget of $1.13 million, Sangamon County spokesman Jeff Wilhite said.

McBride said she was frustrated to get another third-party look at Animal Control “especially since the county received information on where to get proper consultation about running a shelter. is not a local law firm. It’s in these professional organizations. They’ve been given a bunch of resources if they feel they need to bring in third parties. They have an urgent situation and they don’t react.

“I think the world of (Joe Roesch) and if he can help with his law enforcement background, great. Animal care is paramount and that’s an immediate concern.”

McBride said other shortcomings include sanitation issues, ventilation and how animals are handled once they enter the shelter.

McFadden said he was convinced the shelter “isn’t the train wreck that some people want to portray. We think there are policy issues, there are other things that need to attract attention. The department has passed multiple snap inspections (by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Department of Professional Regulation).”

McFadden said there didn’t seem to be “a lot of interest from the council in moving him to the sheriff’s office,” but he wanted to review a report by Chicago’s MGT Consulting Group. This report takes a comparative look at how other central Illinois animal shelters are run and by whom.

Sheriff Jack Campbell said he spoke to McFadden about the surveillance issue and contacted Macon County about its setup and what it might mean for its staff.

“My path is law enforcement for the people,” Campbell admitted. “It’s a more specialized area. It’s something that I don’t feel 100% comfortable taking on those extra tasks.”

Campbell, who has known Roesch for more than 25 years, said her experience speaks for itself.

“He’s an experienced administrator and investigator, so I think he’ll be able to help Animal Control review these policies, helping them in any way necessary,” Campbell said.

Trade manager of Local 477 of the Workers’ International Union of North America, Brad Schaive, also said the county bringing in Roesch would be beneficial.

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The local represents nine of Animal Control’s employees.

“Our working relationship with this law firm has been impeccable,” Schaive said. “Joe Roesch is extremely knowledgeable on labor relations issues. I think it will be good for the taxpayers and good for the unit and good for the employees.

“There has been a list of concerns that have been raised (by employees) over the past six months. What is the county doing to address them and asking this law firm to send someone and assessing where we are and how we got there is a great idea.”

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.

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