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Sheriff candidate Prim wants to bring ‘fresh set of eyes’ to office

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 12:05 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 8:48 p.m. CDT

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WOODSTOCK – Last week in this space, the Northwest Herald outlined the initiatives of Andrew Zinke, one of two lawmen vying to be the next sheriff of McHenry County. It’s time for Bill Prim’s voice to be heard.

Prim, a 27-year veteran police officer, spent much of his career in investigations – focusing much of those efforts on drugs and asset forfeitures. He eventually retired as commander from the Des Plaines Police Department and currently works in security at the Lake County Courthouse. He touted numerous law enforcement awards and commendations during his career.

“[I will bring] a fresh set of eyes and new set of ideas and somewhat of a different philosophy,” Prim said in an interview with the Northwest Herald.

Prim is publicly backed by McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi. It’s that endorsement, Prim says, that would put an end to public – and often costly – squabbles with the sheriff’s office.

He says he and Bianchi have an “inherent trust” in one another.

“I would do away with all the political infighting between all the offices there … working in conjunction with someone instead of being in constant friction,” Prim said.

“When you have people consistently having to be in court discussing issues, that costs the taxpayers money. That’s on the taxpayers’ dime,” he said.

Sheriff Keith Nygren, who is retiring this year, supports Zinke to run as his successor.

Prim says he is the candidate who will end what he calls the “entitlement mentality” at the sheriff’s office. He wants to bring “transparency and trust” back to the office.

“The only way you can truly be transparent is to invite people in and let them see exactly what you do,” Prim said. “The end result is you end up with really good ideas from people outside the program. ... You improve that image by allowing the public to participate.”

Specifically, he wants to establish an internal affairs office that is impartial to address allegations of misconduct against sheriff’s deputies.

“The perception is that their internal investigations aren’t conducted in a fair and equitable fashion,” Prim said. “I would take that question out.”

Perhaps his biggest initiative would be to immediately begin building a volunteer network to assist the sheriff’s office on special events or during a weather emergency, for example. Those volunteers would free deputies from those tasks.

“Things that require a police presence and police service, but does not necessarily need to tie up a deputy for a long period of time,” Prim said.

He also would bring back the office’s traffic crash investigation unit that was eliminated and merged to create the intelligence-led policing unit.

If elected, Prim said he would to take a hard look at the McHenry County Jail agreement to house federal immigration detainees to make sure it’s cost effective. He would eliminate what he called “unnecessary administrative staff.”

Besides Bianchi, Prim’s other backers include Sen. Dan Duffy, former congressman Joe Walsh and other local businessmen.

The primary election is March 18. The winner of this race will face Jim Harrison, a Woodstock-based attorney specializing in employment law and a former sheriff’s deputy. Harrison is running as an independent candidate in the Nov. 4 general election.

On the net

Visit http://shawurl.com/zinke to read the election profile of Andrew Zinke from the Feb. 1 Northwest Herald.

Debate set

The Northwest Herald in partnership with the League of Women Voters will host a debate between the two candidates at 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

Fundraising to date

According to quarterly reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Election, Andrew Zinke has $38,418 in the bank compared to Bill Prim’s $23,600.41. Zinke raised $21,401.23 in the most recent quarter. Prim raised $10,310.

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