BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) — A widening drug probe involving judges has St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly performing random drug tests on his entire staff.
Kelly won’t comment on how high the scandal might go, but told KMOX “It’s obviously both a professional and personal blow to me to see these things occurring.”
Reports indicate a number of prominent people in the Belleville area could be implicated.
The tests began May 23rd. A total of 60 employees will be tested.
The testing comes as part of the federal drug and firearms investigation into former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook, who was charged with heroin possession last week.
Kelly told KMOX News, he does not want to jeopardize that ongoing federal investigation so he is releasing the following statement:
My Office has been actively involved in advancing this federal and state investigation for sometime. It was crucial that this investigation not be compromised or exposed prematurely.
St. Clair County already has a zero tolerance drug policy under which employees can be drug tested for cause at any time. Once there was reason to believe my most serious concerns were valid, all potential risks were assessed, but initiating new random drug testing could have disrupted or destroyed an ongoing criminal investigation.
Circumstance have changed as this investigation has become public and I am now implementing a stricter, mandatory random drug testing policy modeled on that of the Illinois State Police and the United States Attorney’s Office. Tests can be on random personnel at random times because that is the most effective way to identify an illegal drug user. These tests can be across the board, for specific units or based on specific case assignments. The chemical sensitivity of the tests are set at the same rigorous levels used by the federal government.
The public demands and deserves decisive action. I personally submitted to a drug test two weeks ago, something I routinely did when I was in the Navy. We’ve had some HIPPA and logistical issues to deal with in quickly implementing this kind of aggressive policy, but I expect to have the entire Office tested shortly. So far, no one has tested positive.
The employees of the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office and I understand how important their integrity and reputation are to each other, to the public, to victims of crime, and the criminal justice system itself. We are lawyers, but we are a special kind of lawyer. We are prosecutors. We represent the People of the State of Illinois. The People rely upon us to be above reproach. That’s not easy sometimes, but it’s the profession we’ve chosen. It’s the call we’ve answered.
County Board Chairman Mark Kern and other County officials have requested I provide my legal opinion on how to update and strengthen existing drug policy throughout County government. I will do so.
We can’t tip toe around this. We must confront these dangerous, insidious drugs head on, and protect ourselves and our institutions from them.