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Veteran Oswego Police officer to lead department : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Veteran Oswego Police officer to lead department
Board OKs Burgner appointment in 4-0 vote; to succeed Baird this fall

by John Etheredge


A veteran Oswego Police officer will serve as the department's new chief beginning this fall.

In a unanimous ballot Tuesday evening, the village board approved Village President Brian LeClercq's appointment of Capt. Jeff Burgner, 41, as police chief effective in November.

Board members Judy Sollinger and Scott Volpe were absent from the meeting and the vote. However, LeClercq said both had expressed their support for Burgner's appointment.

Burgner will succeed Dwight Baird as police chief. The department has 49 sworn-officers and approximately 20 civilian support staff members.

LeClercq said Wednesday morning the board may take action on a contract for Burgner during their next meeting Aug. 5.

Baird won the Republican Party's nomination for Kendall County Sheriff in the March primary election. He is running un-opposed for the position in the Nov. 4 general election.

Baird has served as police chief since 2003.

Burgner's appointment will be effective from November through the next municipal election in April. At that time, he will be subject to re-appointment by the successful candidate for village president with the consent of the board.

In announcing Burgner's appointment, LeClercq noted the village has had a history of long-serving police chiefs and thanked Baird for his service to the village.

"We have truly, truly been blessed by your service," LeClercq told Baird, adding, "And you are not done. I know you will continue to serve us in another capacity with the county and you will look on Oswego with favor."

Burgner was one of three applicants from within the department to apply for the chief's position. The other applicants were Capt. Nick Sikora and Sgt. Chris Biggs.

LeClercq, a village board committee, and a consulting firm with expertise in law enforcement interviewed and tested the three applicants over the past several weeks.

LeClercq invited all village board member to participate in the appointment process.

Board member Gail Johnson thanked LeClercq for involving the board in "every step of the (appointment) process."

Board member Terry Michels described the three applicants as "certainly all qualified" and the interview process as lengthy and thorough. He added, "It was excellent."

Burgner said he was honored to receive the appointment and his initial goal will be to work on a "seamless transition" with Baird and Capts. Sikora and Jim Jensen who comprise the department's command staff.

"My goal right now is to focus on the transition and I'm really fortunate the village president and village board have allowed a three month period so I can really get comfortable in my new position," he said.

Asked what may have set him apart in the interview process, Burgner said he did not envy LeClercq and the board having to make the appointment decision.

He added, "I personally feel that I am a forward thinker. I like to try and look into the future and try to foresee where we're going to be (as a department) way down the road, not just tomorrow night. I think that is something that is a very good quality. But, again, I don't envy the decision they (LeClercq and the board) had to make since the other candidates were extremely strong."

Burgner described his decision to apply for the chief's position as a progression in his law enforcement career.

"When I first started out it wasn't a lifelong ambition," Burgner said of becoming police chief. "But as I moved up in the organization as sergeant and then as captain, I realized I wanted to be involved in the direction of the department. Then, when I learned that Chief Baird was looking to possibly depart I knew that I wanted to be the person that would be able to build on the foundation that he was able to build."

A native of Naperville and graduate of Naperville North High School, Burgner earned a bachelor's degree in administration of justice in 1995 at Sourthern Illinois University. He was hired as a village police officer in June of 1996 and rose steadily through the ranks.

Burgner was named a detective in December 1999 and his duties included the investigation of a wide-range of crimes, from financial to property to computer crimes.

Burgner was promoted to the rank of patrol sergeant in 2004. As a patrol sergeant he supervised a team of six patrol officers. His duties included reviewing reports, handling citizen complaints, and the evaluation and training of officers on day-to-day police activities.

Also as a patrol sergeant, Burgner supervised the department's field training program and served as the department's representative on the Kendall County Major Crimes Task Force.

In January 2008, Burgner was promoted to the rank of detective sergeant and was responsible for supervising a staff of nine sworn officers and one full-time civilian staff member. From December 2010 to this past January, Burgner served as investigations captain and supervised the police departments investigations division that included a staff of 11.

In January, Burgner was promoted to field operations captain and assumed responsiblity for overall operation of the patrol functions within the department. As field operations captain he has had supervisory authority over seven sergeants and 25 patrol officers.

In addition to his bachelor's degree, Burgner is a 2007 graduate of Northwestern University's School of Police Staff and Command and a 1996 graduate of the University of Illinois' Police Training institute.

Burgner has been a nominee for the Kendall County Officer of the Year Award, a member of the Oswego Police Departments Pipe & Drum Band and member of the Kendall County Association of Chiefs of Police.

Among those recommending Burgner for the police chief's position were Montgomery Police Chief Dan Meyers and Christine Nelson, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the Reed-Custer School District in Braidwood.

In a letter addressed to LeClercq dated April 28, Meyers noted he has known Burgner for approximately 15 years and praised him for his commitment and dedication to the Oswego Police Department.

Describing Burgner as "highly qualified" to serve as police chief, Meyers wrote, "Jeff's personal and professional conduct and demeanor have always been exemplary. Jeff's character is above reproach."

In her letter of recommendation dated May 29, Nelson noted she worked with Burgner from 2011 to 2013 as she served as director of student services with the Oswego School District.

Nelson said Burgner helped her coordinate the school district's emergency response protocol and led a team that implemented "procedures that adhered to the highest standards for the safety and well-being of our students and staff."

Nelson added, Burgner's "dedication to the well-being and safety of our students was apparent in all of his efforts, but most notably in his development of drug and alcohol awareness presentations which he coordinated with both myself and my predecessor. His efforts resulted in well attended forums which included topic on drug and alcohol awareness, driver safety and Internet safety."

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