Reflecting on a 30-year career: Sheriff Tony Brown

Local News

MACON COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Monday marked the end of an about three-year-long election race.

After a contentious recount, Jim Root was sworn in as Macon County Sheriff. With that beginning, also comes an end, Sheriff Antonio “Tony” Brown will retire.

Sheriff Brown announced his retirement on June 4

WCIA took a drive with Sheriff Brown through his hometown of Decatur, as he reflected on his past three years in office and a lifetime that led up to that role.

“I have a week left. I thought this day would never come,” Brown mused as we drove out of the parking garage attached to the Macon County Law Enforcement Center.

Monday began the seven-day countdown to retirement for Brown.

“So this is the neighborhood I grew up in,” he shared as we drove down John St. in Decatur. “We used to have foot races up and down this street.”

So what prompted a law enforcement career that now spans three decades?

“[I] had the opportunity to see a guy in our neighborhood that wore the brown sheriff’s office uniform, driving in the car and watching how he interacted with the community, and you know, how much respect they had for him as well, and the guy looked like me,” Brown responded.

It was Roger Walker.

“He was elected the first African American sheriff in the state of Illinois, back in 1998,” Brown explained.

And in 1990, Brown became a deputy himself.

“When I started, Lee Holsapple was the sheriff at the time that hired me, and during our sheriff’s interview he had asked me that question,” the retiring sheriff recalled.

“He said, ‘Tony, where do you see your future with the Sheriff’s Office?’ and I said, ‘To be sitting in the seat you’re sitting in,'” Brown said, pointing to the chair across from him.

Fast forward to 2018 and Tony Brown kept true to his word, winning the Macon County race by one vote. There was a years-long recount, and in May, the race was ultimately ruled in opponent Jim Root’s favor.

Brown said he accomplished all of his goals and more during his time in this office.

“Statistics say I shouldn’t be sitting here, but by grace I am here,” he added.

Brown said he can hang his hat on knowing he used his office as a platform to listen and form community connections.

It was these principles that led to the decision not to appeal the recount decision from the circuit court judge.

“What I didn’t like is that I know that the department and this community was riding this rollercoaster with me,” Brown explained. “And you know, you could see the morale, because that’s the talk now…And it’s like, you know what? It comes to a point where we need to put this to a close.”

Jim Root was sworn in Monday, June 21 at 11 a.m.

Even without the uniform, Brown plans to continue to have an active role in Macon County.

He will spend the week helping the department transition. His final day is a week from Monday.

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