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Posted on: July 8, 2022

Peoria County Sheriff Asbell to Step Down, Capt. Chris Watkins Designated to Fill Duties in Interim

Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell has notified the Peoria County Board and County Clerk of his intent to resign as Peoria County Sheriff. He has designated Captain Christopher M. Watkins, current Field Commander of the Sheriff’s Patrol Division and Undersheriff, to act as Interim Sheriff until another Sheriff is elected or legally appointed.

Per statute, Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew A. Rand, with the consent of the County Board, will formally appoint a replacement to hold the position until the next election at a future board meeting. Captain Watkins is running unopposed in the upcoming November 8, 2022, election.

The Sheriff's Office is one of the largest departments of Peoria County, overseeing more than 150 employees. In addition to law enforcement duties primarily in unincorporated areas of Peoria County, the office is responsible for Peoria County Jail operations and security at the Peoria County Courthouse.

Captain Watkins will be sworn in at a private ceremony by 10th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Katherine Gorman on Friday, July 8, 2022, at 11 a.m.


July 8, 2022

To the Residents of Peoria County:

Please allow this letter to serve as my official notification that I will be resigning my Office as Sheriff of Peoria County effective 11:00 am today, Friday July 8th, 2022. In accordance with Illinois Statutes, I have submitted a letter to Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew Rand and other legal stakeholders identifying Undersheriff, Christopher Watkins, shall assume all duties and responsibilities of the Peoria County Sheriff at that time, and until a formal appointment is made by the Peoria County Board.

It has been an honor to serve the men and women of the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Peoria County. I will forever cherish the accomplishments made and relationships built during this time. However, the last couple of years have taken a toll on both me and my family and I just don’t have “much gas left in the tank”. Major operational and budgetary decisions need to be made over the next couple of months and these decisions will have multi-year implications. The new leadership team of Chris Watkins need to make these decisions, not me. Therefore, I believe it is both necessary and proper to exit now and allow the future administration to decide upon these impactful, consequential matters at hand.  

I will be the first to say there are things I could have done better, but please know I gave you all I had, and did the best I could do trying to navigate the unprecedented hardships of the past several years. The future of law enforcement, corrections and other pillars of the criminal justice system will continue to face adversity and complex staffing issues. Please continue to support not just the men and women of the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, but all first responders, essential workers and volunteers who serve this community every hour of every day. 

Between the military and the Sheriff’s Office, I have over thirty-one years of public service, and it has been nothing less than a privilege to serve both our nation and community. Nevertheless, it is now time to concentrate on the job of husband and father, which unfortunately has become a secondary role while serving in this profession. Recognizing this, I will close by saying thank you for all the support you have given me in my tenure as Sheriff. I have been blessed to work alongside some of the best people this community has to offer, and I will remain eternally grateful for that.

With extreme gratitude,

Brian Asbell
Peoria County Sheriff 

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