BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- Longtime St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus is retiring after more than five decades in law enforcement.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern tells the Belleville News-Democrat that the 81-year-old southern Illinois sheriff turned in his resignation on Tuesday afternoon. Justus was first elected sheriff in 1982 and has served eight terms. He became police chief in Cahokia in 1962. He is a previous president of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.
O’Fallon Police Chief John Betten called Justus “an icon” and said he had a career that “will never be matched.” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said Justus is “a hero to many.”
Undersheriff Rick Watson will be sheriff until the county board appoints a replacement who will serve until a special election.
Information from: Belleville News-Democrat