Appreciating that there will be significant changes in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office when a new sheriff takes office at the end of the year, we take no issue with the McHenry County Board resolving current issues in the meantime.
Longtime incumbent Keith Nygren is stepping down and his chosen heir, Undersheriff Andrew Zinke, lost a narrow GOP primary this spring. Former Des Plaines Police Commander Bill Prim, of Cary, won the Republican primary and might face independent candidate Jim Harrison in the fall.
In the meantime, there are decisions to be made on behalf of McHenry County’s largest agency, and the County Board must make the best ones on taxpayers’ behalf rather than waiting to see whether it has the new sheriff’s blessing.
There was some questioning of a recent decision to implement a pilot program to convert about 20 sheriff’s squad cars to propane, the cost of which the county hopes to offset with state green energy grants.
Propane is generally cheaper than gasoline, safer for the environment and considered safer than gasoline-powered vehicles. Many municipalities, including police departments, have been experimenting with propane use over the past several years.
Questions are appropriate, but halting county decisions that have been studied for a few years because we don’t know what the next sheriff might prefer in six months doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
Like other agencies, the sheriff’s office makes many of its own decisions, but most of the major financial decisions, such as agreeing on a rate to house federal inmates and the department’s overall budget, are made by the McHenry County Board.
Until, and even after, a new sheriff is in place, the board needs to continue using its best judgment.