Candidate Profile: Dustin Heuerman is running for County Sheriff

Dustin is the first Democrat on the ballot for County Sheriff in over 20 years.  His web site makes a case for supporting his campaign:

“Ever get the feeling the criminal justice system is spinning its wheels but not really going anywhere? Me too! As our society evolves, it’s also time for our criminal justice system to evolve.

I don’t know all of the answers to our community’s criminal justice problems, but the one thing I do know is that my opponent has had the ability to make high-level decisions at the sheriff’s office for years. It seems that our criminal justice system is in the same place it has been for those years.

Here’s what I’ll do for you: I’ll couple my 19 years of experience as a criminal justice professional with my formal education in both criminology & leadership and partner with YOU, the community, to make positive, impactful changes to the criminal justice system in Champaign County. This will take a collaborative effort by the sheriff’s office, judicial system, community organizations and other law enforcement agencies within the county, but “business as usual” can no longer be the answer.


Although he grew up in Effingham, Dustin and his husband, Tony, have lived in Champaign County since 2008. He is currently a tenured faculty member and criminal justice program coordinator at Lake Land College, a community college in Mattoon, and serves as a part-time police officer for the college as well. He has formerly served as a Deputy Sheriff for the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and as a Chief of Police. His husband is a Registered Nurse at Carle Foundation Hospital. Dustin’s formal education includes a Master of Science in Criminology/Criminal Justice and a Doctorate in Leadership.  He summarizes his skills and abilities as:

  • 19 years in the criminal justice field, including private security, 911 telecommunications, criminal investigations, uniformed patrol and administration.
  • Union leadership to approximately 130 members, including contract negotiations.
  • Writing and oversight of federal grants for training and equipment.
  • Involvement with emergency planning and preparedness for large-scale catastrophes and behavioral threat assessment for college campuses.
  • Oversight of personnel and public facilities, review and development of law enforcement policies and procedures, and development and implementation of strategic plans for both short-term and long-term goals.
  • History of advocating for minoritized groups, including serving as the Vice Chair of the Human Relations Commission for the City of Champaign.
  • Diverse cultural perspectives, including LGBTQ and Latino communities.


“Though I’m not an advocate of incarceration, incarceration is the best option for some offenders as we strive to protect society from violent criminals. The sheriff’s office is only one part of the criminal justice system that is directly involved with the detention and punishment of offenders. The decision to detain suspected offenders until trial, or incarcerate offenders as a sentence, is made by the judicial system. The Champaign County jail facilities are simply the means to carry out the orders of our judicial system. As Sheriff, I will work closely with the judicial system and the State’s Attorney to explore alternatives to incarceration for offenders in Champaign County, including pretrial detainees.

For those suspected offenders who need pretrial detention or are sentenced to incarceration as a sentence, it is in our best interest to provide adequate facilities to accomplish this task. First, we are responsible for the health and safety of inmates while in the county jail. Inadequate facilities can increase the amount of medical costs and lawsuits the county could potentially face. Second, it is our obligation to help county employees do their jobs to the best of their abilities – which includes providing a safe work environment. I am dedicated to not only preserving the physical health of our correctional officers and other employees within the jail, but also their mental health as well.

When thinking about how to proceed with making positive changes to jail facilities, I think it is important to collaborate with the community. One of my first priorities as your new sheriff will be to engage the community in how to proceed with these changes. Options might include updating both jails to meet federal mandates or consolidating into one jail facility, but I’m not interested in expanding jail facilities to incarcerate more offenders than our current capacity.”


  • A stronger, safer community is possible through collaboration and partnerships.
  • We should explore alternatives to incarceration, not increase the capacity of the jail.
  • People who fear the police don’t report crime. Nobody should fear speaking with the police.
  • If employees are treated right and given proper training and tools, they will be loyal, ethical public servants.
  • His experience with diverse cultures will help facilitate equality.
  • His master’s degree in criminology will allow him to better prevent crime by examining the causes, not just arrest the offenders.


For questions or comments, you can reach Dustin by using the Contact form on his website at There you can contribute to his campaign or volunteer.  He has a Facebook page here.