James Mendrick, a DuPage County resident for 37 years and active community member of the county, attended Downers Grove South High School, married his high school sweetheart Cyndi and they have two amazing young boys Colin and Connor. He has risen through the ranks to lead the Sheriff’s Office in the second largest county in Illinois, which has 400 sworn and 100 civilian employees.
James followed in his father, Joseph Mendrick’s footsteps, who was the former Oak Park Chief of Police. Hired in 1996 as a patrol deputy, James rose through the ranks of corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, major, administrative chief before being elected sheriff in November 2018. As a student at Lewis University, Mendrick studied criminal justice and later completed the School of Police Staff & Command at Northwestern University. In 2019 Mendrick was elected co-chair of Region 4 Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS). During his time at the Sheriff’s Office, he was instrumental in many facets of the agency, but as Sheriff he has fostered a new culture of hope and purpose and has shifted the focus to the improvement and wellbeing of the citizenry.
Most recently, Sheriff Mendrick proudly led efforts to achieve and maintain a zero percent COVID-19 positivity rate amongst inmates in the Correctional Center throughout all of 2020. And in an effort to maintain communication with our most vulnerable population during the pandemic, Sheriff Mendrick partnered with the DuPage Senior Council and community partners to distribute thousands of meals, between August and December, including 1000; full-course Thanksgiving dinners and 600 hams for Easter to our county’s senior citizens. Sheriff Mendrick’s efforts garnered food for nearly 11,000 families in 2020. During the first four months of 2021, the Sheriff’s Office has already provided meals to more than 9,000 families in need. This program is officially titled “It Takes A Village”.
Under the leadership of Sheriff Mendrick, 36 neighboring police agencies united in August 2019 to form an unprecedented sharing of resources and manpower under the shield of the Metropolitan Emergency Response and Investigation Team (MERIT). To supplement the increase manpower, Sheriff Mendrick who previously oversaw the K-9 unit more than doubled the number of highly trained dogs available to assist our MERIT teammates throughout the county. Mendrick also created the county’s first digital forensics unit.
Shortly after taking office in December 2018, Sheriff Mendrick doubled all rehabilitation services before partnering with the DuPage County Health Department to institute Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), Medicated Assisted Recovery (MAR) and Vivitrol for inmates fighting opioid and other addictions. Sheriff Mendrick also created vocational training programs that save millions in contractual services (Sanitation,Welding,Horticulture and others coming) while preparing incarcerated people to be successful upon release. He promoted the use of Deterra Drug Deactivation Bags to keep dangerous prescription medication out of our medicine cabinets and waterways. Being a good steward of the environment, is also important to the Sheriff as illustrated through his multiple partnerships with community groups including SCARCE and the DuPage Conservation Foundation.
In less than a year, about 10 percent of the correctional facility population have graduated from one of the Sheriff’s workforce inmate job training programs. The Sheriff has also utilized the latest technology, including the installation of a new body scanner to further secure the facility and limit contraband into the facility and greatly reduce the need for strip searches of inmates. This and other initiatives were made possible through his newly created grant unit that developed more than $4 million in outside revenue.