Sheriff: Terry Quinn is like 'Chicken Little'

DeWayne Bartels
Woodford County Sheriff Jim Pierceall did not mince words about being dragged into the politics of Germantown Hills.

Woodford County Sheriff Jim Pierceall said he has not been a fan of Germantown Hills Trustee Terry Quinn for some time.

A recent entry Quinn and fellow trustee Mike Gaetz made on their blog about traffic control in the village by the sheriff’s department did nothing to endear Quinn to Pierceall.

Last week, asked to respond to the issues raised by Quinn and Gaetz, Pierceall said Quinn is “psycho” and “manipulative.”

Pierceall defended Germantown Hills Mayor Kenny Mitchell and trustees Clark Hopkins and Ken Slater, who have been the targets of Quinn and Gaetz’s blog “Germantown Hills: A Perspective.”

The fuse

Quinn and Gaetz in their blog entry titled “Playing politics with your safety?” said Germantown Hills Mayor Kenny Mitchell and some village trustees are not working with the village’s best safety interests in mind.

The article outlined what Quinn and Gaetz said was the years of work that went into getting the sheriff’s department to create a “credible law enforcement threat” in the village getting drivers to slow down on Route 116 and in residential neighborhoods.  

The trustees pointed out that in 1996 and 1997 Germantown Hills reached an average of 41 citations per month through contract patrols by sheriff’s deputies.

In a report showing citations issued between January and July, ‘10 the two men said citations fell to about 15 per month despite a 50 percent increase of patrol hours.

Quinn and Gaetz said this lack of police productivity was brought up to Mitchell and Slater, who is the chair of the police committee.

Quinn and Gaetz said they got nowhere trying to discuss the issue in village board meetings or a meeting of the police committee.

“We were unable to reach agreement on this problem. Instead, we heard a lot of excuses why everything was fine the way it was,” Quinn and Gaetz wrote.

“And worse yet, the numbers of citations, instead of increasing, has dropped further, where recently it has only been four per month.”

Quinn and Gaetz write that, in the past, the village had an effective citation policy.

“But the new mayor and trustees actively oppose that past strategy.  And because of that, the sheriff’s department is getting a mixed message from the village board,” Quinn and Gaetz wrote.

“This isn’t a problem with the sheriff or his deputies.  This is a problem with our own village board.”

Pierceall responds

Pierceall said Quinn has a perception there is a “huge problem” with speeding in the village. Pierceall said that perception is Quinn’s and, not a widely held perception.

“I’m basing my opinion on a couple of things. I’m in communication with the mayor and the head of the Germantown Hills Police Commission, Ken Slater. They say things are fine,” Pierceall said.

“That’s not good enough for Quinn. If his perception was true my phone would be blowing up from residents of Germantown Hills complaining about speeding. My phone is not ringing.”

Pierceall said the safety issue Quinn is pushing is irritating to him.

“Quinn wants to micro-manage this thing. This isn’t Caterpillar. We don’t have to meet a quota of tickets,” Pierceall said.

The sheriff laughed when it was pointed out that Quinn said the issue was not with the sheriff’s department, but the village board.

“In the past Quinn had the bulls eye on my back,” Pierceall said.

“To shut his mouth I had two cars down there a half-hour during rush hour for a while. They wrote some traffic tickets.”

He added that was not good enough for Quinn.

“The money from those tickets went in the county’s coffers. Quinn wanted it in the village’s coffers. (Quinn’s) like Chicken Little running around yelling, ‘The sky is falling.’”

Pierceall called into question the validity of Quinn’s assertion that speeding is blatant and wide-spread.

“Even if there are two cars a minute going 10 mph over is that a huge problem? I don’t think so,” Pierceall said.

Pierceall said there is a “credible law enforcement threat” toward speeders in Germantown Hills.

“That’s why we have little speeding there. Metamora has a reputation for traffic enforcement that’s horrible. I don’t want the sheriff’s department to have that type of reputation in Germantown Hills.”

Pierceall said he did not know if the analysis of falling traffic tickets in the village was accurate or not because he does not follow the number of citations issued in the county that closely.

“It may be the number in the village has fallen because Metamora is writing the hell out of them,” Pierceall said.

The sheriff said he believes this issue has arisen because Quinn is not getting his way with the rest of the Germantown Hills Village Board.

“This has mushroomed over a year’s time,” Pierceall said.

“Bottom line is Quinn wants a police force in Germantown Hills. Germantown Hills may be big enough for that. I don’t know. We’d be willing to help the village do that. The thing is the majority of the board doesn’t want that. We haven’t increased our fees in 15 years. The majority of the board is satisfied.”

Pierceall said he finds this whole discussion disturbing.

“I’m really torn. I’m elected by all the people in the county. If I was selfish I’d walk away from Germantown Hills and tell them to find their own police protection. But, I’m not going to do that,” Pierceall said.

“These kind of things happen. I think we handle our services well. Quinn is just manipulative. I have no issues with the rest of the council.”

Quinn responds

When Quinn and Gaetz began their blog “Germantown Hills: A Perspective” late last month Gaetz said they did so, in part, with the hope their writings would impact the upcoming election.

While their blog has been subdued in tone the two trustees in a Woodford Times story said, among other things, Mitchell, Slater and trustee Clark Hopkins were hijacking the village board to fulfill their personal agenda.

The two bloggers said Mitchell, Slater and Hopkins were “politically immature” and bullies.

Quinn said he does not understand the sheriff’s dislike of the blog entry on police protection.

He said the stance he took is that the issue is with the village board and not the sheriff’s department. He said that remains his stance.

“The sheriff is getting mixed messages from the village board,” Quinn said.

Quinn restated his belief that there is a speeding problem in the village.

“It’s not an issue I’m pursuing on my own. It’s been board strategy for along time to go after speeders. We have people talking to us about their concerns on this issue,” Quinn said.

“I have data, gathered on my own, that indicates speeding is going on.”

Quinn said he has not placed a “bulls eye” on Pierceall’s back.

“I didn’t even have conversations of a police nature with the sheriff until some police committee meetings in the past year-and-a-half,” he said.  

“I have no idea where that is coming from.”

Quinn said he definitely is not in favor of the village creating its own police force.

“I’ve long been an advocate for the sheriff’s department doing our patrols. I’ve never been an advocate of us having our own police force. There’s other board members who share my feelings,” Quinn said.

“We believe the sheriff’s department does a good job. The village board has never thought of our own police force.”

Finally, asked if the tone of the sheriff’s comments surprised him, Quinn said, simply, “I have no comment.”