WIUM Tristates Public Radio

IL Attorney General to Investigate McDonough Co. Sheriff's Office

Feb 23, 2018

McDonough County State's Attorney Matt Kwacala told Tri States Public Radio there will be an investigation of the McDonough County Sheriff's Office following the release of 911 audio recording detailing a reckless driving complaint against the sheriff from April of last year.

Kwacala said he first learned of the 911 call recordings from reading Tri States Public Radio’s report online on Monday, February 5. “I obviously listened to them and then reached out to the Illinois State Police to see if they wanted to look into the matter. They referred me to the Illinois Attorney General's office. This would have been the day after, that Tuesday,” Kwacala said.

Kwacala said he asked the other agencies to investigate because he didn’t feel it would be appropriate for his office do so.

“I work with the sheriff’s department on a daily basis and I have a really good relationship with the sheriff’s department and the sheriff and the chief deputy and all the other deputies. So it’s just not proper for me to be the one investigating that,” Kwacala told Tri States Public Radio.

Kwacala said he works closely with the sheriff’s office to help prosecute the people they have arrested, and he also provides the office with advice and guidance.

The 911 audio recordings from April of last year were released through a Freedom of Information Act request. The recordings detail a reckless driving complaint against Sheriff Rick VanBrooker. Chief Deputy Nick Petitgout and another deputy responded to the call.

Following the news report, Petitgout told Tri States Public Radio he found the sheriff at home and since the call was unwarranted, no report was filed. The sheriff also released a statement, saying he was experiencing the onset of vertigo and pulled over until it passed.  

Kwacala would not say what the investigation will involve or examine, given that his office is not involved.

Kwacala said the Illinois Attorney General's office has instructed the Illinois State Police to investigate and report back.  He said it will be up to the Illinois Attorney General's Office to decide whether there is anything worth pursuing. Kwacala said no timeline was provided for the investigation.

The Illinois Attorney General's office did not immediately respond for a request to comment. 

Tri States Public Radio reached McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker by phone, but he would not provide any comment on the situation.