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Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the contributions and the capabilities of local people. Often those people are passed over in favor of outsiders when openings come up.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case when the city of Vandalia began its search for a police chief.
In fact, Jeff Ray has been serving as sergeant and periodically as acting chief during the past year when Chief Larry Eason has been struggling with health issues. Eason said last month that he did not want to seek reappointment.
We salute Eason for the many ways he improved the department. And for the way he encouraged Ray to position himself for a seamless transfer of leadership.
Thus, when Mayor Rick Gottman submitted Ray as his appointment for the position at Monday’s city council meeting, the aldermen unanimously – and enthusiastically – gave their stamp of approval.
Ray, a Vandalia native, has experience with the Department of Corrections, working at the Sheridan Correctional Center for 2½ years before returning home 13 years ago to serve on the Vandalia Police Department. After serving for 6½ years as a VPD officer, he was promoted to sergeant, a position he held until now.
Ray is a certified field training officer, a SWAT operator, an advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response instructor and assistant team leader for the Illinois Law Enforcement System’s tactical team for regions 9 and 11. He’s also completed 120 hours of Transformation to Leadership training and 32 hours of street leadership training offered by the Illinois State Police Academy. He’s prepared himself well.
This is one of those cases in which the best candidate is right here in our own back yard. He knows the community, he knows the department and he’s ready to step up.