In 2014 Gary Caruana was elected and subsequently sworn in as the 38th Sheriff of Winnebago County. In September of 2017, Caruana announced his decision to run for re-election in 2018. In the late 70's and early 80's Sheriff Caruana served nearly a decade as a Winnebago County Deputy Sheriff. During this time he served as a patrol officer, corrections officer, and process server allowing him to develop an understanding of the workings of the entire department.

In the early eighties Caruana decided to move to the private sector where he began his longtime career with United Parcel Service (UPS). Caruana rose through the ranks of the corporation. During this growth, he also attended college earning a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.

At UPS Caruana became the Corporate Investigative Security Manager responsible for facilities in Illinois including Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford airports. This responsibility covered 12,000 employees and millions of parcels carried by thousands of vehicles across the state. Caruana developed working relationships with Local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies including the post 9/11 master operating security plans within O’Hare, Rockford and Peoria airports.

Caruana retired in 2013 from UPS and began discussing his desire to run for Sheriff of Winnebago County. On September 5, 2013 he made his candidacy official before a crowd of over 150 friends and supporters. Caruana has also served as a substitute teacher in the local public school system and has been a volunteer for Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful. Caruana also served as a commissioner on the Rockford Board of Fire and Police.

During his term in office Sheriff Caruana has continued and built upon a very cooperative relationship with other law enforcement agencies. The relationship with the Rockford Police Department has been significantly improved and is producing results regarding arrests and crime rates. Caruana also attended and graduated from the FBI Academy where he was able to develop relationships and exchange ideas with other law enforcement agencies across the country.

Caruana resides in Rockford with his wife Maria.

Real Budget Facts

To get an accurate understanding of Gary Caruana's budget since he took office.

Budget Facts. Actual Savings.


Since December 2014

September 30th,
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  • Changed culture of WCSO by appointing new Chief Deputy, four new Merit Commissioners, new Corrections Superintendent, new ESDA Director, new full time commander of the Machesney Park division and new Crime Stoppers Administrator; (The new Crime Stoppers Administrator has been laid off due to county budget cuts)
  • Implemented new Strategic Plan system to track progress of projects so that they are implemented quickly and effectively;
  • Created new 13 member tactical unit; (The new Tactical Team has been disbanded due to county budget cuts)
  • Created 5 canine officer positions to attack crime hot spots; (The Canine units have been largely funded through private donations and grants)
  • Created state of the art TEMS unit to work with the SWAT & TAC Units; (The new Tactical Team has been disbanded due to county budget cuts)
  • Replenished staff at the 911 Center to reduce delays in responding to 911 calls; (The 911 Center is being outsourced due to county budget cuts)
  • Reassigned additional deputies to the drug and gang units working in collaboration with Drug Enforcement Administration and the City of Rockford Police;
  • Acquired tire deflation devices to end pursuits safely;
  • Added and staffed additional supervisors in the patrol and corrections division to increase monitoring and mentoring of subordinates; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Worked with FBI to create and staff the new Safe Streets Violent Crimes Task Forces;
  • Forged new working partnerships with other law enforcement agencies including the City of Rockford Police Department; Department of Homeland Security, United States Marshal’s Service, Illinois Department of Corrections; and the Stateline Area Narcotics Task Force to house these units’ Rockford based operations and use their agents as force multipliers in special operations;
  • Drafted and implemented new pursuit policy to allow deputies to pursue fleeing felons in a wider range of situations;
  • Established Pursuit Review Board to monitor WCSO’s pursuits to make sure they are done safely and to minimize risk to the public;
  • Implemented and staffed (along with various other local and state police agencies) regular saturation patrols of crime hot spots throughout Winnebago County along with serving high risk arrest warrants and checking sex offender registration; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Created Fugitive Apprehension Unit and increased number of deputies assigned to serve outstanding arrest warrants; (This program has been eliminated due to county budget cuts)
  • Implemented Crimestoppers hotline in jail;
  • Created “Warrant Wednesday” program on our agency’s web site
  • Created and used Twitter and Facebook to publish departmental news;
  • Rehired veteran police commander Dominic Iasparro to reinvestigate cold cases and mentor departmental investigators; (Dominic Iasparro is no longer with the cold case effort due to county budget cuts)
  • Created and staffed training department to instruct departmental personnel on a wide variety of subjects including precision driving and self- defense tactics;
  • Created a Chaplain Unit;
  • Created internal gang intelligence database;
  • Sheriff joined Board of Directors for non-profit agency that provides free helicopter search & rescue service;
  • Sheriff joined Board of Directors of Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Assault;
  • Sheriff created advisory committee with African, Arab, Asian Voice Organization;
  • Housed federal inmates to bring revenue into county;
  • Established civilian based 911 Center and appointed first civilian director; (This program has been outsourced due to county budget cuts)
  • Expanded training outreach to provide situational awareness training for other county departments and private businesses located within the region;
  • Eliminated backlog of outdated arrest warrants;
  • Established narcotics enforcement partnership with DEA;
  • Established violent crimes partnership with FBI Safe Streets Task Force;
  • Enhanced recruitment of minority job applicants;
  • Partnered with Rockford River Chaplain’s Association to provide support services for crime victims and deputies;
  • Worked with Great Oaks management to reduce calls for service at that complex;
  • Worked with property owners along Minns Drive to reduce calls for service in this area;
  • Established partnership with RCPD domestic violence unit;
  • Established partnership with RCPD’s SCOPE team and WCSO Tac Team; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts and the TAC team eliminated)
  • Increased number of orders of protection served; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Participated in DOJ funded Focused Deterrence program to enhance the efficient expenditure of taxpayer funded resources;
  • Established partnership with Commonwealth Edison and Rock River Homeowners association to monitor river water levels;
  • Established African American Advisory Committee;
  • Deployed random shakedowns in the corrections facility to improve safety and security;
  • Added second forensic computer investigator as part of FBI Regional Forensic Crime Laboratory;
  • Established greater community relationship by encouraging deputies to have as many citizen contacts on a monthly basis;
  • Submit monthly highlight briefing to public and county board;
  • Increased DUI enforcement from 2016 to 2017; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Increased drug seizures from 2016 to 2017; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Increased burglary arrests from 2016 to 2017; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Increased periodic undercover public indecency investigations in local forest preserves; (This program has been eliminated due to county budget cuts)
  • Tac Team has made significant arrests in numerous high profile crimes; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Established regular meetings between members of the WCSO and judiciary to ensure high quality performance and professionalism of WCSO personnel;
  • Conducted periodic undercover stings for sexual predators in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts and the elimination of the TAC Team)

As a responsible steward of taxpayer’s money, the Sheriff has aggressively made the following changes

  • Trained and assigned correctional officers to take over responsibility of transporting arrestee. This leaves more sworn law enforcement officers on the street to provide law enforcement service; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • Removed patrol sergeants from the 911 Center and reassigning them to street level supervision adding another squad car on the street for each shift;
  • Hired new training officer to conduct more in house, cost effective training of deputies and correctional officers in areas such as physical tactics, high risk driving and report writing;
  • Created and implemented protocol for Correctional Officers to guard hospitalized Inmates;
  • Established bimonthly meeting with representatives of the State’s Attorneys office to identify and remove from custody low risk, high medical cost inmates resulting in accrued savings of more than $1 million;
  • Sponsored and participated in Kimball study to explore consolidation of the county and city 911 Centers; (This program is in process)
  • Reduced AFSCME Bargaining Unit grievances by implementing focus groups, speaking personally with employees, and providing an overall more open-door policy, the Sheriff has dramatically reduced the number of AFSCME grievances; (More grievances are being filed due to county budget cuts)
  • Reduced overtime and usage of sick time in all departments. By instituting weekly sessions with all command level personnel, the Sheriff has been holding each bureau and division responsible for the overtime dollars they are using. The message has been that overtime dollars are available if it is needed, but each commander is accountable for those dollars and must be able to fully explain their expenditure;
  • Obtained private donations to fund a portion of new WCSO uniforms and to establish canine unit;
  • Created and expanded the use of inmate work crew do perform routine maintenance on county properties; (This program has been eliminated due to county budget cuts)
  • Implemented DPR system for reporting certain minor offenses;
  • Implemented In Time digital time keeping program to reduce costs and increase transparency and accountability;
  • Caught and reported misspending of taxpayer money by county administrators;
  • Reduced overtime in patrol;
  • Reduced overtime in 911 Center;
  • Replaced costly, end of life firearm inventory with new firearms for minimal cost to taxpayer.
  • Negotiated allocation funding of Juvenile Assessment Center in cooperation with RCPD; (This program has been impacted due to county budget cuts)
  • For the first time in WCSO history solicited bids with county administration for vehicle maintenance schedule;
  • Retained firm to provide telephone service to inmates at a minimum guaranteed annual revenue to Winnebago County of $904,000
  • Established relationship with outside vendor to allow deputies to purchase equipment at lower cost;
  • Created inventory system in corrections to reduce supply costs by over $100,000;
  • Created and staffed grant writing position;
  • Created internal safety committee to reduce personal injury and property damage incurred from workplace accidents.
  • Worked with United Way on a neighborhood improvement program to create a "strong house" in Machesney Park to provide a safe place for residents to bring complaints.

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