Effingham Daily News
EFFINGHAM — Illinois State Police Zone 7 Investigations Interim Commander Kelly Hodge will now head two districts as commander of Effingham-based District 12 and Carmi-based 19.
Hodge said his priorities in the new position are to continue enforcement on the highway, despite cuts to State Police funds and staff.
"For District 12 and District 19, they're going to be the same as other districts," he said. "We're struggling with limited resources and shrinking staff, but our goals remain the same. We're doing the same things we normally do."
Hodge said the primary issue facing Districts 12 and 19 is a lack of funds and resources, which he said has limited the state police's enforcement of drugs being transported through the area. He hopes to improve enforcement despite financial limitations.
"That's been pretty active in the Effingham area," he said. "We probably haven't had as much success in the past few years, but hopefully we can get up to that level again."
Hodge said drug enforcement is a priority because of the dangers intrinsic to the more commonly used substances in the area.
"I think we've obviously always been concerned about drug use in some of the communities but between meth and heroin,those drugs have become more prevalent, and there's more danger in those because they're a homemade drug," he said. "It can be deadly."
Hodge's extensive knowledge in drug enforcement stems from his work with drug task forces since the beginning of his career. After graduating from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Hodge served with the Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. He graduated from the State Police academy in 1994 and was assigned to District 18 in Litchfield. He later transferred to District 12 Effingham Patrol and stayed there until 2005 before being promoted to sergeant for the South Eastern Illinois Drug Task Force, which he worked with for three years. He was later promoted to master sergeant and then lieutenant for Zone 7 Investigations, while serving as commander for the South Eastern Illinois Drug Task Force.
Hodge said there has been some dramatic improvement in District 12, particularly when it comes to preventing roadside fatalities.
"I think our main focus in a patrol perspective is reduction in fatalities and serious injuries," he said. "We're doing that through our normal patrol functions and occupant restraint."
Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @EDNJAdams.