Rockford Register Star Article Photo

Rockford Register Star Endorses Caruana for Sheriff

Our View: Gary Caruana is the better choice for county sheriff

Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers is proud of his department.

“We’re not broke,” he said Thursday during an “exit interview” with the Editorial Board. “Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But we’re a damn good shop. I wish other law enforcement agencies were in as good a shape as we are.”

Meyers is going to hand the keys to the department either to Gary Caruana or Bob Springer, the two men on Tuesday’s ballot who hope to replace him.

Meyers’ preferred candidate is Democrat Springer — you’ve probably seen the ads — but we think Republican Caruana is the better choice to move the department forward.

We respect Meyers and agree that the department has run well under his command. We commend him for trying to stay abreast of modern policing methods.

The Sheriff’s Department started using Narcan, the brand name for the opiate antidote naloxone, in June and deputies have saved the lives of 12 people because they had and were trained to administer the drug.

Deputies have Tasers and probably will have body cameras soon, putting the department squarely in the forefront of law enforcement agencies nationwide.

There’s more, and there’s no doubt that Springer, who worked his way up to deputy chief during a more than 30-year career in the Sheriff’s Department, could take over the job on Day One. It would be a smooth transition and Springer wouldn’t have much of a learning curve. He’s a strong candidate.

Nevertheless, we think Caruana would bring a fresh set of eyes to the department and might be able to see opportunities that those who have worked inside the department for a long time might not recognize and implement appropriate changes.

Caruana has experience in public- and private-sector law enforcement. He worked in the Sheriff’s Department for eight years before landing a job with United Parcel Service. He was corporate security manager at UPS, a job that had him working on budgets and security.

The budget will be an issue for whomever replaces Meyers. Meyers said his budget was reduced 16 of the 17 years he was sheriff and faces a $1.1 million deficit in this budget cycle. Caruana’s budgeting expertise will be tested if he wins.

There are dozens of law enforcement agencies in the county with Rockford being the largest. Cooperation with agencies large and small is important for the next sheriff.

“This department does not have a problem with cooperation with any department in this area. Period,” Meyers said. He was referring to reports that Rockford and county administrators don’t get along.

“If you have a Rockford cop and a county deputy who know the streets, that’s an unbeatable combination,” he said.

The next sheriff needs to use that “unbeatable combination” to further crime-fighting efforts in the region and to continue the inter-department cooperation Meyers is so proud of.

Meyers recognizes there’s little diversity in the department, an issue his successor needs to address. There are no female detectives, and corrections officers feel they get stuck in the jail with little hope of advancing to street work.

Meyers is making good on his promise to keep working until Nov. 30, his scheduled last day on the job. He says that he will work with whomever wins Tuesday and that the sheriff is just one “part of a system” of law enforcement.

He cautions that the new sheriff can try new things but can’t forget the tradition of law enforcement: catch and arrest the bad guys.

Although we think Caruana and Springer both could maintain that tradition, we think Caruana’s breadth of experience and newcomer’s perspective are a better fit. He is endorsed.

Endorsement for Gary Caruana for Sheriff

Winnebago County Sheriff candidate Gary Caruana is believable, likeable, and
trustworthy…three key attributes of a talented leader. Since the late 1970’s I
have observed Gary in multiple roles in both public service and in the private
sector. In every capacity in which Gary served, he always remained committed
to professionalism, always investing his time in developing his leadership skills
and completed his impressive academic credentials.

I make these observations from the perspective of my expertise as a national
CEO and C-Level Executive Leadership Coach and Strategist. As the CEO and
President of Clark Leadership Consulting, with over decades devoted to
developing leaders, I can say with certainty that Gary Caruana is a committed,
highly educated, and dedicate individual who desires to leave a legacy of
contributions to the advancement of his community.

Prior to my over 20 years in private sector I enjoyed 22 years as a chamber of
commerce chief executive. As the former chief paid executive of the Rockford
Area Chamber of Commerce, I have worked with elected sheriffs in three states
since the 1970s. Leaders who desired to accept the challenging position of
sheriff, must have strong management skills. They must understand law
enforcement. They must be able to gain the trust and confidence of the deputies
and command, understanding the increasing importance of their roles in public
safety. They must be seen as trustees of the public trust, able to manage tax
dollars, allocating them strategically and fairly across the board. Gary Caruana
will do exactly that when elected as your next sheriff.

Let me close with Gary as a husband, father, and valued friend. Our family has remained close friends of Gary, Maria and his children since we first met. While he has consistently advanced in his career, he has always realized the importance of family, raising his children, and loyalty to his friends.

Gary Caruana deserves your vote. The community deserves to benefit from those proven skills and integrity he will deliver as sheriff.

It is truly my honor to endorse Gary and ask my many friends in Rockford and Winnebago County to cast their vote for him.

Richard G. Clark, CEO & President
Clark Leadership Consulting, Inc.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308

Caruana Announces Support from Law Enforcement

Caruana Announces Support from Law Enforcement

 Caruana holds press conference touting law enforcement support

Receives endorsements from two Democratic Candidates for Sheriff

Gary Caruana: Since I kicked off my campaign over a year ago I have been humbled by the amount of support that I have received in my quest to be elected Sheriff of Winnebago County. I am humbled because I am being supported by so many different people from so many different backgrounds who all share my belief that change is needed in the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office and that we need to get our crime rate under control.

Today I am announcing the support of many individuals who are either retired or active duty law enforcement officers from several different agencies including the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department. I am proud to stand here now with the individuals who could make it to this press conference who possess a combined hundreds of years of experience. I will draw on that experience, as well as my own experience, to help create the organization and plan that will bring down the crime rate and restore the confidence of the citizens of this county.

I would like to introduce to you my good friend Gary Maitland. Gary was a Major with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department as well as the Cherry Valley Police Chief. Gary is the Chairman of my campaign.

Gary Maitland: Thank you Gary for running for Winnebago County Sheriff. The job of candidate is hard and that’s why I agreed to help Gary with his campaign. I have known Gary many years going back to his years as a Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputy where he served for 8 years. Gary’s career path did not take him too far from law enforcement as he ended up running security for United Parcel Service and commanded the security operations for all of Illinois.

His experience at UPS included working with many law enforcement agencies and building the kinds of relationships with those agencies that benefit the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office should he get elected Sheriff. That experience also allowed him to vastly grow his knowledge of management and employee relations. These are key elements in running an organization that has hundreds of employees and tens of millions of tax dollars in trust.

Gary Caruana has strong support amongst law enforcement members and we have brought some of those supporters here today. As we have mentioned, Gary has support amongst current and retired law enforcement from many different agencies. Represented here are retired officers from the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department, the Rockford Police Department, the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Secretary of State’s Police.

I want to introduce to you two gentlemen who ran in the Democrat Primary for Sheriff who have decided to support Gary Caruana for Sheriff. Fighting Crime is not a partisan issue. People should support and vote for the best candidate. Bob Redmond is a former Rockford Police Officer with 30 years of experience. I will now ask Bob to say a few words.

Bob Redmond: I am here to support Gary Caruana for Winnebago County Sheriff because I truly believe that he is the best candidate for the job. As Gary Maitland had mentioned, crime is not a partisan issue and neither is fighting crime. The job of Sheriff requires many skills including managing people and resources and improving the citizen’s quality of life.

In Rockford and Winnebago County we have been fighting too much amongst ourselves and not enough against the bad guys. I believe that Gary Caruana can bridge the gulf between all of the law enforcement agencies and help us work together to give the citizens of this county that quality of life that they deserve.

I ran in the Democrat Primary because I believed that the Sheriff’s department needed change and now I am supporting Gary Caruana because he shares my views and concerns and I am confident that he will make that change happen.

Gary Maitland: And now I would like to introduce to you former Deputy Winnebago County Sheriff, and former Democrat candidate for Sheriff, Sergeant Jeff Schroeder.

Jeffrey Schroeder:   I too am proud to lend my support to Gary Caruana. And, like Bob, I too ran for Sheriff of Winnebago County in the Democrat Primary. Unlike Bob, who served with the Rockford Police Department, I have spent my 36 year career with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department. I have worked for three different Sheriff’s.  Different in name, but not in practice.

For too long Sheriff’s in Winnebago County resembled a line of succession rather than a true voice of the people. Elections have been slam dunks for the incumbents. For the first time we have a choice in this election. We have a chance to make changes in the department that are needed and long overdue. We have a chance to have a fresh voice and a fresh mind focused on the issue of fighting crime and restoring confidence within the Sheriff’s Department.

The one quality, among many, that stood out for me when I decided to support Gary Caruana and that is fairness. Anyone who knows Gary knows that he is fair in his dealings with people. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s department employees need to feel that their interaction with the Sheriff will always be fair. Morale at the sheriff’s department is critical to the health of the organization. Employees who work in these high stress positions need to know that they will be treated fairly and that pay and promotions will be based on a fair criteria.

I am happy to be here today to support Gary Caruana for Winnebago County Sheriff and will be casting my vote for him on November 4, as the next Sheriff of Winnebago County. 

How about You!

Gary Caruana: Thank you Gary Maitland, Bob Redmond, and Jeff Schroeder for your support. I also want to thank these gentlemen behind me who have taken time out of their day to show support. (see list below). I also want to thank those who could not make it today but who are working hard on this campaign.

Thank you.

Retired Police Officers Supporting Gary Caruana for Sheriff
At September 23rd News Conference

Aaron Booker  30 years of service

retired Sergeant, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Bill Conard  27 years of service

retired Sergeant, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

John Edmunds  27 years of service

retired Sergeant, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Todd Houde  33 years of service

retired Chief, Cherry Valley Police Department

Mike Juliano  30 years of service

retired Captain, Illinois Secretary of State Police Department

Glenn Koski  30 years of service

retired Master Sergeant, Illinois State Police

Steve Kudzma  27 years of service

retired Lieutenant, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Gary Maitland  38 years of service

retired Chief, Cherry Valley Police Department

Greg Rogers  26 years of service

retired Senior Deputy, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Larry Schultz  38 years  of service

retired Chief Deputy, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Jerry Venable  35 years of service

retired Chief, Rockford Park District Police Department

Retired Police Officers Supporting Gary Caruana for Sheriff
Unable to Attend News Conference

Roger Costello  33 years of service

retired Chief Deputy, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Chris Cowan  28 years of service

retired Sergeant, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Rodney Roop  36 years of service

retired Deputy Chief, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department

Mike Booker 30 years of service

retired Rockford Police Department

Greg Lindmark 30 Years of service

retired Rockford Police Department


A Founding Member of Crime Stoppers Endorses Gary Caruana for Sheriff

Dick Clark HeadshotEndorsement of Gary Caruana for Sheriff of Winnebago County, Ill.

For immediate release:

As the former chief paid executive of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce and one of the founding members of Crime Stoppers, I am personally privileged to endorse Gary Caruana for Sheriff. For more than 35 years I have followed his upward mobile career. Today, as a national CEO and C-Level executive coach, I evaluate top executives as a part of our firm’s practice. I can tell you that Gary Caruana is a highly educated, exceptionally qualified professional with a consistent track record of outstanding performance in his career. He is also well grounded with good common sense, superior judgment, and high standards of ethics and integrity. He will bring strong, inspiring, and quality leadership to the post of Sheriff of Winnebago County.

For further information:
Richard G. Clark CEO & President
Clark Leadership Consulting, Inc.

4900 N. Ocean Blvd., Suite 405
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308

Gary Caruana Endorsed by Rock River Times!

The Rock River Times is endorsing Gary Caruana for Winnebago County Sheriff! Here is a portion of that article where all of the candidates were evaluated. The original article can be found here on the Rock River Times website.


By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
and Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

March 12, 2014 – Rock River Times Article


Gary Caruana

Frank Pobjecky

A military veteran, Pobjecky is the off-duty Winnebago County deputy who shot four armed robbers at Maria’s Pizza in 2011. One of the suspects, 16-year-old Michael Sago, was killed in the shooting. Pobjecky was found to be justified in his use of deadly force. While a very competent deputy and a brave and admirable man, Pobjecky represents the Dick Meyers’ administration and lacks experience to lead a regional police department. He has great potential, and we hope he progresses in his career.

Although Caruana hasn’t been a police officer since the 1980s, his administration skills exceed the qualifications to run the office of sheriff. His impressive 26-year stint as manager of security for UPS across the entire state of Illinois included relationships with the FBI, FAA, DEA, TSA and the United States Secret Service. Caruana also maintained working relationships with the Illinois State Police, ATF and local police agencies. He has promised to end nepotism in the Sheriff’s Department. He wants to change the merit commission and diversify command staff. Caruana is consummate professional. Your vote for Caruana is so important to disarm the unwieldy negativism that would continue in the sheriff’s department if we have another representative of Gasparini and Meyers’ holding that powerful office. The morale under the cloud of favoritism is horrible. Vote for Caruana.


Randall L. Olson

Robert (Bob) Redmond

Jeffrey S. Schroeder

Glenn A. Heidenreich

Robert C. (Bob) Springer

In this closely-watched and most-important local race, the Democratic bid for Winnebago County Sheriff boasts candidates with many levels of experience and many stains from each end of the spectrum. For too many years, former Sheriff Donnie Gasparini has held sway over that office, spinning off very questionable deer hunting practices (automatic weapons) and real estate “practices” with the county. His son, Donnie, Jr., is a deputy chief, just as Scott Meyers, Sheriff Dick Meyer’s son, is a also deputy chief. They’ve both been promoted to the same rank on the same day – every time – from sergeant, lieutenant and deputy chief! Can you say, “arrogance” and “nepotism”? These political dynasties must come to an end. Anyone beholden to Gasparini or Meyers is a “No” vote here. Meyers’ kingdom, known as the over-blown “Criminal Justice Center” has created a criminal justice industrial complex downtown that needs to be downsized, and it has not reduced crime. The cracking concrete edifice is a negative for River District and real economic development downtown.

The worst of the worst, Dandy Randy Olson is not a Democrat, no matter what he says. He is one of the oldest insider players in the Republican party since elephants were born. His running as a Democrat is a sham! No self-party-respecting Democrat should ever vote for him, and if they do, they should turn in their party card. His candidacy makes party politics the true joke they are. Be laughed at by every Republican in the county, you supposed Democrats and go donkey-faced first with a vote for the phony-Dem Dandy Randy Olson. He’ll be sure to kick you in the donkey. By the way, you can be sure he is asking every Republican friend he has to pull a Democratic primary ballot, “just this once,” so the Dandy can win. Unfortunately, he’s pulling first-ballot position. Olson is a deputy commander with the Air-One Emergency Response Coalition, the helicopters out at the airport that assist police agencies and fly too low over the city. He served as a Pecatonica police officer in the late ’70s and was an auxiliary officer with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department from 1975 to 1998. He’s always wanted to be a real sheriff. Olson ran as the Republican he is when he unsuccessfully challenged Dick Meyers for sheriff in 1998. He was a Republican Winnebago County Board Member for many years. While he’s been successful in his father’s business, his attempts to buy a seat at the county political table have been marred by blunders and shaky alliances. Olson was demoted from his forest preserve presidency post to a regular board member after he created the position of public safety and risk management officer and tapped his Roscoe Police Officer Theresa Rawaillot for the job in a police force that may have only existed on paper. Rawaillot served under Olson on the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition. Olson was also at the center of controversy in 2011, when the forest preserve purchased 18 acres of swampland from his longtime-friend, former Sheriff Donnie Gasparini, for $216,500. Olson also attempted to back-door an increase of up to 150 percent of the current WCFPD tax rate until the effort was thwarted by Illinois Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford, in 2012.

Another candidate reportedly too close to Don Gasparini, Redmond, began his career in 1977 as a dispatcher for the Rockford Police Department and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Police Department. He became a Rockford Police patrol officer in 1985. During his career, Redmond worked as a training officer, gang and violent crime investigator, hostage negotiator. He also supervised the Youth/Sex Crimes and Auto Theft units before he retired as a sergeant in 2008. To quote a column by Paul Gorski: “Redmond has voted in Republican primaries as recently as 2012 and was the campaign committee chairman for Republican Glen Weber’s race for state’s attorney against Democrat Joe Bruscato. Redmond is listed as “Chairperson” of this committee at the Illinois State Board of Elections website: That all makes for pretty strong Republican credentials. Yes, folks, I think he’s really a Republican, not a Democrat. With political good-ol-boy Jim Hughes, who works for the Republicans and he used to be a Democrat (a very good buddy of Donnie’s), working on his campaign, he’s a no go.

More of a Democrat than any of the other candidates, Schroeder said he will only seek one term. Since announcing his candidacy last November, the 36-year veteran of the sheriff’s department has claimed internal issues are to blame for the county’s high crime rate. Schroeder wants to hire more deputies on the streets and inside the jail. Schroeder retired as a senior sergeant Oct. 29, 2013. I like him.

A former Navy Seal, Heidenreich has been with the sheriff’s department for more than 20 years. A sergeant, Heidenreich is also a member of SWAT and serves as the department facility security director. We do not need any further militarization of our law enforcement agencies.

Sheriff Dick Meyers backs Robert C. (Bob) Springer, a 30-year veteran of the department. He began his career as a corrections officer and retired as deputy chief under Meyers. Springer has administrative experience, marked by working as commander and trainer for the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS). Under Springer, the ILEAS was one of the first responders to Hurricane Katrina and continues to work area law enforcement agencies and maintains strong regional police and community ties. Nominating Springer, however, would be putting a rubber stamp on the current, impotent department and continuing the Gasparini and Meyers political dynasties, marked by over-taxation, questionable deals and nepotism.

This is the most important race out of all the local elections. Please vote for a true Democrat and someone who might actually be a sheriff for the people of Winnebago County, not special interests or special families. Vote for Schroeder. He’s the underdog. Encourage all your friends to volunteer and vote for him and give him as many campaign contributions as you can. Schroeder is your man; the big-money boys don’t like him; if you have any doubt about that, Sunil Puri contributed $5,000 to Springer’s campaign. Schroeder has to fight against that powerful money and connections. Help him any way you can. Real Democrats, stand up for your man! Vote for Schroeder.

Letter From Don Manzullo

Don Manzullo HeadshotDear Friend,

This past September I had the opportunity to attend Gary Caruana’s kick-off event for his campaign for Winnebago County Sheriff. I have known Gary for many years and have been impressed by his sincerity, his honesty, and his leadership skills and grasp of the issues at hand. That’s why I am supporting Gary’s campaign for Sheriff.

Gary has 8 years experience as a Sheriff’s deputy with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office. In addition to hands on law enforcement experience, he has a couple of decades worth of business and management experience as head of security for United Parcel Service in Illinois which includes the Rockford Airport hub.

At UPS, Gary managed hundreds of people and was an intricate part of the logistics of moving tens of thousands of packages and hundreds of drivers on a daily basis. Gary also managed the relationship between UPS and dozens of other law enforcement agencies including the monumental security issues that resulted in the post 9/11 terrorist attacks. Gary has a proven record of working with others in order to tackle the problems that come up.

Winnebago C ounty is fortunate to have a man of Gary Caruana’s stature and experience step forward to tackle the number one issue in Rockford and Winnebago County: Crime. The county needs innovative and creative solutions to this devastating problem and that requires a candidate who can manage resources and coordinate with all of the law enforcement agencies within the county in addition to state and federal agencies. Gary Caruana has that experience and can get the job done.

I am asking that you too consider supporting Gary Caruana for Winnebago County Sheriff. I know, as a former candidate myself, that people like you are critical to the success of any campaign. I want Gary Caruana to be successful in his campaign because I believe that he can be successful in combating crime in Winnebago County. I am asking you to join me in helping to elect Gary Caruana.

I hope to see you on the campaign trail with Gary Caruana and thank you for your consideration of his candidacy.

Donald Manzullo Signature