Bond County will have a new sheriff for the first time in 23 years, beginning in February.
Current Bond County Sheriff Jeff Brown announced he will retire at the end of January during a regular session Bond County Board meeting Jan. 2.
“It has been my pleasure to serve. I haven’t had to go to work one day in my life,” Brown said.
In the same meeting, James Leitschuh was selected by the board to become the county’s new sheriff once Brown officially steps down. Leitschuh will be sworn into his position Feb. 1.
Leitschuh was the choice of Bond County Republican Central Committee to replace Brown. By law, when such a vacancy comes up, the board is obliged to appoint a person from the same political party to fill the office. Both Brown and Leitschuh are Republicans.
“I am very excited to have him taking over as the sheriff,” Brown said. “Jim has the knowledge and expertise to command the department, the jail and maintain all the security for all of the county buildings.”
Brown hired Leitschuh in 1997, and 10 years later, he promoted Leitschuh to chief deputy, which is the position he has worked for the last 11 years.
“Jim knows the department inside and out,” Brown said.
To keep the post, Leitschuh will have to run for election in November. Doug Lawrence of Keyesport, a former deputy with the Bond County Sheriff’s Department, will be the Democratic candidate for sheriff.
Leitschuh, a Bond County native, lives in Greenville with his wife, Jeanie, who is a Highland native. Together, they have one 21-year-old son named Devon.
Leithschuh said he has always felt a calling for law enforcement though, the profession did not call him to serve right away. After graduating from Bond County schools, Leitschuh entered into the workforce briefly in construction, then as a Highland factory worker for about 10 years. After almost a decade, a new opportunity to pursue a career in Bond County law enforcement arose.
“I took it and jumped on it and went from there,” Leitschuh said.
After Leitschuh was promoted to chief deputy, he said he started getting into the administrative side of law enforcement. He also said he spent time observing Brown and learning.
“People are comfortable with Jeff. They trust Jeff. I have to earn that. I don’t expect that to be given. I’m going to work hard to earn that trust like Jeff has over the years,” Leitschuh said.
Leitschuh said he has some goals in mind for the near and far future.
“We’re in a great spot. I just want to put my touch to it, my view on it, and maybe take us to the next level,” Leitschuh said.
Leitschuh said he wants to make improvements to the county jail and implement more technology. Leitschuh hopes to run fiber optics between the sheriff’s office and the court house, so the deputies can participate in closed-circuit court.
“So were not spending so much time in the court room. I can get our deputies back out onto the street and be seen,” Leitschuh said. “I think that cuts down a lot of crime — just to be seen and be out there.”
Though he will be hanging up his hat in Bond County, Sheriff Brown will not be retiring for good.
Before he was elected in 1994, Brown accrued an extensive list of experience and accomplishments, totaling 31 years in law enforcement, including working patrol, coordinating the D.A.R.E. program at Greenville Police Department, and working undercover for the South Central Illinois Drug Task Force.
He is retired from the Illinois Army National Guard and the Air Force (Reserve) Office of Special Investigations, where he was a special agent with a specialty in Protective Services Operations. He protected the chief of staff of the Air Force, the undersecretary of the Air Force and many visiting foreign dignitaries that were guests of the secretary of defense at the Pentagon.
Brown said, in the future, he is hoping to put his security background to use with an emphasis on anti-terrorism.