Above, Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd. – Jeni Ensslin/theYOUjournal photos
by Long Hwa-shu
Dr. Thomas Rudd, Lake County coroner, believes that truth be told as is with no sugar-coating, and that his office should be unbowed to any outside pressure.
For his independence and transparency, the Illinois Association of Law Enforcement Executives has named him “the Illinois Law Enforcement Executive of the Year.”
In honoring him, Daniel McCollum, association president, said Dr. Rudd, in multiple high-profile investigations, Has “demonstrated that he is willing to be an independent thinker and exhibited an admirable willingness to seek the truth, regardless how unpopular his actions might be.”
In one recent case involving the Sept. 1 suicide death of Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, Dr. Rudd was criticized as unprofessional, irresponsible and jeopardizing the investigation when he disclosed to the news media that the police officer had died of a single gunshot wound to his torso.
At the time investigators, based on messages Gliniewicz left to his police department, believed it was a homicide. It was later found that Gliniewicz apparently committed suicide to cover up his alleged embezzlement of funds from a youth policing program he was overseeing.
“I was not jeopardizing the investigation, I was just telling the truth from the autopsy (to clarify media report inaccuracies),” said Rudd, adding, “I strongly suspected at the time that it was a suicide.”
Dr. Rudd who lives in Lake Forest is one of the two recent Lake County coroners with a medical doctor’s degree. After receiving his medical degree in pathology and nuclear medicine from the University of Illinois in 1974, he worked as a pathologist at Highland Park Hospital and later with a private laboratory in Schaumburg.
“I’m honored and humbled since I was merely trying to do a good job entrusted to me,” he said of the honor bestowed on him by the 150-member association. He pointed out the award was for all the cases he handled, not just for the Gliniewicz suicide.
“The award to me is for everything we did, all the major decisions we made,” he said.
Rudd, 69, a Democrat, has been on the job since Dec. 1, 2012. He said he plans to seek his re-election to the office as an Independent because he made some clerical errors in his petition.
“I’m older than dirt, but still above it,” Rudd said with a laugh.