City of Carbondale names Jeff Grubbs police chief


By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_Lukitsch

Jeff Grubbs is here to stay as Carbondale’s chief of police.

After serving as interim chief for more than a year, Grubbs was named as permanent chief of the Carbondale Police Department, City Manager Kevin Baity announced during a press conference Tuesday at City Hall.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the city of Carbondale, and more particularly in the Carbondale Police Department,” Baity said.


Grubbs has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, including 11 years at the executive-command level; eight years of which were spent as Carbondale’s deputy chief.

Baity said his decision was based on a personal evaluation of Grubbs in addition to the unanimous approval of a three-member panel of city officials. Three other candidates were also interviewed for the position, but Baity declined to name them.

Baity declined to say what Grubbs’ annual salary will be, but said it is more than $95,000. He also said Grubbs’ position as police chief is long-term and indefinite.

“This is an appointment that will continue on until we decide to part ways or neither one of us is no longer here,” he said.

Carbondale has been without a permanent police chief since the dismissal of Jody O’Guinn last year. It was at that time Baity promoted Grubbs from his former position as deputy chief to interim chief.

O’Guinn was criticized for his handling of multiple high-profile cases — including the deaths of Pravin Varughese and Molly Young — before he was fired by Baity in August 2014.

Young was found dead in her ex-boyfriend Richie Minton’s apartment on March 24, 2012, as the victim of a gunshot wound to the head. Her death was originally ruled a suicide despite questionable details concerning the case her family felt were concealed by the Carbondale Police Department.


A civil lawsuit was filed against Minton by her father Larry Young in 2014, but it was dismissed in May by Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Charles Grace on grounds that the charge exceeded the statute of limitations.

Varughese, a 19-year-old SIUC student from Morton Grove, was found dead in the wooded area near the Buffalo Wild Wings on 1435 E. Main St. in Carbondale on Feb. 18, 2014, six days after he was reported missing.

The original autopsy report by the Jackson County coroner’s office named hypothermia as the cause of death. But a suggestion from the family’s funeral director prompted the mother, Lovely Varughese, to obtain a second autopsy, which was conducted by Dr. Ben Margolis of Chicago who determined blunt force trauma to be a likely cause of death.

The Varughese family filed a $5 million wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the city of Carbondale, then-police chief O’Guinn, Jackson County Coroner Dr. Thomas Kupferer and Gauge Bethune in August 2014. Bethune is suspected to be the last person to see Pravin alive.

All defendants except for Bethune were dropped from the suit in August. 

Although city leaders have said O’Guinn was fired for unrelated reasons, both cases have sparked controversy regarding the lack of transparency of the Carbondale Police Department — something Grubbs said he plans to address.

“Transparency is a difficult word to define. It means a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Grubbs said. “Suffice it to say that we have a lot of records that are very sensitive… and to the extent that we are required by law to comply with those privacy interests, I believe it is incumbent upon us to do so.”

Grubbs acknowledged issues between the Carbondale Police Department and the community exist. He said he wants to move the department forward by focusing on law enforcement policies involving violent crime, career criminals, community hot-spot policing and community policing.

“We don’t need to change the image of the department, we’re going to get the department back to have the image that its always had,” Grubbs said.

This story has been updated.

Bill Lukitsch can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bill_LukitschDE