A new chief of police has taken over at the St. Elmo Police Department.
St. Elmo Chief of Police Jeremy Scruggs now supervises a department with two patrolman and four part-time police officers.
“We moved into town on Feb. 6 and I started work on Feb. 7,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs, his wife Lacey of 22 years 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 in high school in Texas. He said Haley will join the family in Illinois once she graduates.
“I wanted my son to grow up in a smaller community,” he said. “My son loves the outdoors. He loves to fish and hunt and Texas is becoming overpopulated. So, my wife and I decided we would venture on up here.”
He and his wife had to make a little adjustment moving from Texas to Illinois.
“We’ve never seen this much snow in our lives,” said Scruggs. “It doesn’t snow much down there, but we do get quite a bit of ice.”
He was hired in October and had to wait during a waiver process to get his police officer certification from the State of Illinois.
He said most kids are not used to being around law enforcement and has a plan to make a change.
“One of the main things I would like to do is get the youth familiar with the police department and build a relationship so they can trust us,” he said. “I would like to bridge the gap between police and kids. That is one thing we are striving to do right now.”
Scruggs said so far they’ve been to the schools to talk to the kids and plans to visit a driver education class on March 11. He said he was in the very early stages of creating a junior police academy for kids in the fourth through sixth grade.”
Scruggs is a Texas native, born in Jacksonville, Texas, He graduated in the class of 1998 from Athens High School of Texas.
He started his law enforcement career in 1998 as a detention officer for the Anderson County, Texas Sheriff’s Office. He became a detention officer for 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 at the Jacksonville, Texas Police Department before serving 11 years as a school district police officer for the Corsicana Independent School District (ISD) in 2006. He worked his way up the ranks in the Corsicana ISD department from police officer, police sergeant to assistant Chief of Police.
“I worked 16 years in school district policing before coming to St. Elmo,” Scruggs said. “In Texas school districts had their own police departments.”
Scruggs was assistant varsity soccer coach while working at Corsica ISD. He also served as goalkeeper coordinator for the school district’s soccer program.
“Through coaching kids would see us in a different way than just a police officer,” he said.
In 2017, Scruggs was appointed the Police Chief of the Ennis Independent School District Police Department. He grew his department from four full-time police officers.
“The school district I came from had 6,100 students and 750 staff members over twelve campuses,” Scruggs said. “We had 8 full-time officers and a K-9 unit assigned to me.”
Scruggs holds several certifications including a SWAT certification, patrol rifle instructor, firearms instructor, Texas Master Peace Officer certification, a women’s self-defense (Rape Aggression Defense) R.A.D. Instructor and holds an Illinois Peace Officer Certificate.
“When folks think about the St. Elmo Police Department, I want them to think we are a professional department they can trust and build relationships with. People have been very welcoming so far,” he said.
Members of the St. Elmo Police Department working under Chief Scruggs are two full-time Patrolmen 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 a part of the community,” Chief Scruggs said.