By Bob Balgemann


The village has its first ever deputy chief, someone who supervises the Winnebago County deputies and detectives while providing a distinctive, local “brand” to the law enforcement services they bring to local residents and businesses.

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana was at the May 3 Machesney Park Village Board meeting when he promoted the village’s current public safety supervisor, sheriff’s Lt. Anthony Miceli, to deputy chief.

That appointment was a big step forward in responding to the local wish to have more of a say in the level of police services being provided to the village by the sheriff’s department. That was one of several points of focus resulting in local interviews conducted by a seven-member ad hoc committee appointed by Mayor Steve Johnson in 2018.

It was the committee’s job to recommend who would provide law enforcement services to the village in the future. Initially, there were three options under consideration:

* Create a standalone Machesney Park Police Department.

* Contract for law enforcement services with the Loves Park Police Department.

* Remain with the sheriff’s department, which has been providing those services since the village incorporated in 1981.

Ultimately, the committee recommended staying with the sheriff’s department. A new intergovernmental agreement was crafted and approved. The recently approved new village budget for fiscal year 2021-22 included a $3.950-million spending plan for public safety, down slightly from the $4.183 million that was estimated to have been spent the year before.

The law enforcement services budget represents 54 percent of all village spending during the year.   

The concerns 

During the ad hoc committee research and interviews, there also was input from consultants Paul Nicolosi, an attorney, and the McGrath Consulting Group, Inc.

They said during the process that they had seen contracts elsewhere in which the supervisory lieutenant provided by a sheriff’s department was declared by the village to be its police chief. As such, that individual was empowered to receive direction from the village and act generally on the village’s behalf, while commanding staff as if it was the village’s own police department.

“The village needs to have a meaningful voice in the way the services it is paying for are provided,” they said. “This includes the lieutenant in charge of the Machesney division and the sheriff agreeing to take directions from the village board on establishing policies for law enforcement services in the village.”

In all, it boiled down to the protective force being branded by those being served as one of their own.

Village Administrator James Richter II called the May 3 action “a step to further enhance the village-oriented focus of the Machesney Park Division of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department,” as was suggested by the ad hoc committee.

“The village and sheriff have worked together to place a qualified individual with the proper training and experience in a position to provide the community with the confidence that their police department is now being overseen by a Chief of Police. The mayor and board of trustees are confident that Deputy Chief Miceli will do an excellent job serving the Machesney Park community.”

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Rick Ciganek agreed with the administrator’s view of the collaboration between the sheriff’s department and village, to “foster a sense of identity with the community that these deputies serve.”

He continued, “Working proactively with the village, several strategies were identified to improve the police department’s identity with the village including deputies wearing Machesney Park patches on their uniforms and placing Machesney Park in bold lettering on the side of their squad cars.

“The Sheriff is committed to this idea of community identity with its police department in Machesney Park, and also believes that Deputy Chief Miceli is the right person who will do an outstanding job serving the citizens of Machesney Park.”

The ceremony

At the May 3 meeting, Sheriff Caruana came to the front of the village board meeting room to preside over the ceremony promoting his lieutenant to deputy chief. He was introduced by Mayor Steve Johnson and went on from there, providing extensive background on Lt. Miceli. A 1992 graduate of Guilford High School, Miceli joined the sheriff’s department in 1997. The sheriff then provided details on his extensive background of accomplishments, both educationally and at the sheriff’s department.

The mayor congratulated Miceli on “a well deserved promotion.”

And the deputy chief’s wife, Courtney, affixed his new badge to his uniform.

Miceli thanked the sheriff, mayor, administrator James Richter II and the board of trustees “for believing in me and giving me this opportunity to serve as your deputy chief. I also want to thank my family, co-workers and friends, they’re here tonight.”

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