Illinois State Police are investigating reports that Henry County Sheriff Gib Cady allowed some of his deputies to remove and destroy items from their personnel files.
Henry County State’s Attorney Terry Patton asked state police to investigate after he was notified about the issue last week by someone at the sheriff’s department, he said. The matter was discussed further at this week’s county board meeting, Patton said.
Patton will ask someone with the state’s appellate prosecutor’s office to review the findings of the investigation and determine if a crime occurred, he said. The items removed pertained to disciplinary actions.
Cady said Friday he did allow someone to remove one item of “minor importance” that will be put back. It involved something that “happened years ago,” Cady said, but would not say what it was. He is not aware of any other records being removed, he said.
Kippy Nelson, a county board member and chairwoman of the public safety committee, said Cady acknowledged what happened at this week’s county board meeting.
Cady told board members that he was confused by the state’s Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, which changed at the beginning of this year and opened up more records to public access, Nelson said.
“He was the person in charge and asked deputies to look at files and was there when they were doing this,” she said.
The new FOIA laws are confusing and extensive, the sheriff said Friday, adding he wanted his deputies to know what people could see in those files.
“What I asked the employees was, ‘Do you know what’s in your personnel file?’” he said.
Cady reserved further comment about the investigation but said he’s confident the state police will answer any questions about what happened.
“I hate to say anything because the state police need to be respected so they can come in and do a thorough investigation,” he said.
Patton doesn’t know how many deputies may have been involved or how many records might have been affected, he said. He hopes to release more details as soon as possible but does not know how long the investigation might take.
“We’re going to get the information out to the public as soon as we can,” he said.
Nelson does not know what, if any, action will be taken against the sheriff, she said.
“Until we have the findings of the investigation, I have no comment on what action we would take or could take,” she said.