February 26 – A new police chief has taken over the St. Elmo Police Department.
St. Elmo Police Chief Jeremy Scruggs now oversees a department consisting of two patrol officers and four part-time police officers.
“We moved into town Feb. 6 and I started work Feb. 7,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs, his 22-year-old wife Lacey and 7-year-old son Liam moved from Texas. He also has two daughters in Texas, Aubrey, 20, and Haley, 17, who is finishing her senior year of high school in Texas. He said Haley would join the family in Illinois once she graduated.
“I wanted my son to grow up in a small community,” he said. “My son loves the outdoors. He loves fishing and hunting and Texas is getting crowded. So my wife and I decided to venture here.”
He and his wife had to make a small adjustment moving from Texas to Illinois.
“We’ve never seen so much snow in our lives,” Scruggs said. “It doesn’t snow much there, but we have quite a bit of ice.”
He was hired in October and had to wait through a waiver process to get his Illinois state police officer certification.
He said most children were not used to being around law enforcement and had a plan to turn things around.
“One of the main things I’d like to do is introduce young people to the police service and build a relationship so they can trust us,” he said. “I would like to bridge the gap between the police and the children. That’s something we’re trying to do right now.”
Scruggs said so far they have been going to schools to talk to children and plan to visit a driving lesson on March 11. He said he was in the very early stages of establishing a junior police academy for children in grades four through six.”
Scruggs is a Texas native, born in Jacksonville, Texas. He graduated in the class of 1998 from Athens High School in Texas.
He began his law enforcement career in 1998 as a detention officer for the Anderson County, Texas Sheriff’s Office. He became a detention officer for the Henderson County, Texas Sheriff’s Office and worked his way up to detention sergeant.
Scruggs became a member of the Gun Barrel City, TX Police Department after graduating from the East Texas Police Academy in 2002. He became a police officer with the Jacksonville, Texas Police Department before serving 11 years as a as a school district police officer for the Corsicana Independent. School District (ISD) in 2006. He rose through the ranks of the Corsicana ISD department, rising from police officer, police sergeant to deputy police chief.
“I worked 16 years in school district policing before I came to St. Elmo,” Scruggs said. “In Texas, school districts had their own police departments.”
Scruggs was a college football assistant coach while working at Corsica ISD. He was also the goalie coordinator for the school district‘s soccer program.
“Through coaching, kids would see us in a different way than just a policeman,” he said.
In 2017, Scruggs was named chief of police for the Ennis Independent School District Police Department. He grew his department by four full-time police officers.
“The school district where I come from had 6,100 students and 750 staff spread across twelve campuses,” Scruggs said. “We had 8 full-time officers and a K-9 unit assigned to me.”
Scruggs holds multiple certifications including a SWAT Certification, Patrol Rifle Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Texas Master Peace Officer Certification, RAD Instructor in Women’s Self Defense (Rape Aggression Defense) and holds a an Illinois peace officer’s certificate.
“When people think of the St. Elmo Police Department, I want them to think that we are a professional department that they can trust and build a relationship with. People have been very welcoming so far. present,” he said.
Members of the St. Elmo Police Department working under Chief Scruggs are two full-time patrol officers Dylan Brooks and Kaelyb Worker along with four part-time patrol officers Matthew Ledbetter, Brad Ledbetter, Timothy Taylor and Daniel Beck.
“I look forward to being part of the community,” said Chef Scruggs.
Charles Mills can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.