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Candidates for Sheriff break into argument during forum

Debate turned into argument during the latest NAACP Peoria County Sheriff’s Candidate Forum Tuesday.

During the open question session, a member of the crowd asked Bartonville Police Chief Brian Fengel why County units were involved during a police incident in Bartonville October 2nd on Shelley Lane.

“Now, don’t get me wrong – whenever another agency needs help, that’s what we’re there for,” explained Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell. “We’re there to assist each other.”

“It wasn’t handled by the Sheriff’s department, it was handled by our police department,” Chief Fengel is heard saying in the video on Facebook. “We were in charge of it, County came in as officer backup.”

Sheriff Asbell said the incident in question was a contentious one, due to how the two departments chose to report it.

Chief Fengel’s press release described the incident as a gas leak. Sheriff Asbell’s, however, said it was a suicidal individual planning on causing a gas explosion.

During Sheriff Asbell’s response at the forum, he made a comment directed back at Chief Fengel.

“Sorry, Chief, you weren’t there,” he can be heard saying. “My officers were there, and they managed the situation.”

Then came the retort: “That’s a lie,” shot back Chief Fengel. “I was there. You were not there. You sent officers to back us up, plain and simple. Let’s tell the facts, okay? You weren’t there, I was.”

The conversation devolved from there, eventually with Sheriff Asbell saying he would make a Freedom of Information Act request for the Bartonville officer’s body and dash camera video – which he filed Wednesday.

Chief Fengel agreed, saying it was a matter of his credibility as well, and that his department was cooperating.

“I knew it would be coming. So what we did was get all the evidence, police reports, all the videos,” he explained. “We’re currently reviewing it, and we’re going to comply with the FOIA.”

Chief Fengel also added the investigation into the October 2nd incident was concluded and, as such, the information Sheriff Asbell was seeking would be readily available.

Mason Dowling

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