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Next Oswego police chief a familiar face? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Next Oswego police chief a familiar face?
LeClercq plans to appoint applicant from within the department

by John Etheredge


Oswego's next police chief is likely already serving with the village police department.

Village President Brian LeClercq told the village board this past week he plans to appoint someone from within the department as chief to succeed Dwight Baird.

LeClercq's appointment will be subject to a confirmation vote by the village board.

Baird won the Republican Party's primary nomination for the position of Kendall County Sheriff in the March 18 primary.

Baird is expected to run unopposed for the sheriff's position in the Nov. 4 general election. He would be sworn-in to a four-year term as county sheriff in December.

Baird was appointed village police chief by then Village President Craig Weber in April 2003. The village board supported Weber's appointment in a unanimous ballot.

LeClercq commented on his appointment plans after board member Tony Giles suggested an interim police chief be named since the next village election will be held in April, fourth months after Baird is expected to leave the department. Voters will elect a village president and three board members in the election. LeClercq has not announced whether he will seek a third term as village president.

If an interim chief were appointed to serve until after the election, Giles said, "There may be someone else appointing police chief at that point."

But referring to the pending appointment, LeClercq said, "That is the authority (as village president) I've been given as village president and I'm going to exercise that authority."

LeClercq said he plans to appoint someone from within the police department because he believes the department is doing a good job in serving the village.

He described the department's officers as well-trained and noted they have earned status as a nationally-accredited law enforcement agency.

"I do agree that sometimes we need to go outside to look (at applicants) and that's usually when you have some problems within a department. But from what I've seen with our department and the leadership that is in the department, we have some exceptional people and I have the utmost confidence we will find our next chief from within the department," LeClercq said.

The department has a staff of 63 full-time employees, including 49 officers.

When questioned by board members, Steve Jones, village administrator, said he has negotiated an agreement with a consulting firm at a cost of $2,000 that will assemble a panel of retired and current police chiefs who will put the officers who apply for the chief's job through some role-playing scenarios.

Jones said the scenarios are intended to provide some insight into how the applicants respond to different situations.

"I don't want to say it's a test, but it's a way to judge peoples' prioritization skills, leadership skills and how they handle pressure, etc," he said.

By having the panel of retired and current police chiefs from outside the community conduct the role playing scenarios, Jones said the process of selecting one of the applicants as the new chief will be as "objective as possible."

When the role playing exercises are complete, Jones said the panel will rank the applicants in the order in which they believe they are best suited to take on the job as chief.

However, Jones emphasized the panel's recommendation will be "just information" and "certainly not something the village board has to follow to the letter. It's something that becomes an outside resource so you can hear about the candidates' strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of outside law enforcement professionals."

LeClercq said he supports hiring the consulting firm because the members on the panel will be law enforcement professionals and more likely to ask questions about the operations of the department he might not think to ask.

Giles said he believes that all of the department's officers who might apply for the chief's position "will interview very well."

By having the panel conduct the role playing scenarios, Giles said it should provide "more depth into the individuals and how they make decisions."

He added that he "definitely sees the value" in putting the applicants through the role playing scenarios.

Board member Terry Michels noted that the board was involved in the interview process when Baird was named chief 11 years ago. At that time, none of the current board members were on the board.

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