This year’s uptick in Naperville Police retirements has brought new faces to the department.
According to Naperville Police Department Interim Chief of Police Jason Arres, “Our sworn strength is 177. We had four new positions granted at budget, so we have had 19 openings this year, four of which are those new positions that we’ve filled, so it’s been 15 retirements this year.”
Arres feels the impact first hand as acting Chief of Police after the retirement of former Chief of Police Bob Marshall. Police retirements can be cyclical and the recent numbers are no surprise.
“There was a big push to hire police officers in the 90s,” Arres said. “Do the simple math, we’re hitting folks that are in that 25-30 year range now, we’re getting folks that are near 50 or above 50, so now they’re hitting that retirement eligible age. So this isn’t a surprise in any way.”
The department recognized in 2019 there would be an increase in officers eligible to retire over the next five to seven years.
The department has filled only four positions with new hires fresh out of training.
“With 19 openings, and to only be able to get four people, you could see how understaffed our department would have been,” Arres said. “So this lateral transfer program has been tremendous in allowing us to fill openings and not really have a bad impact on our community where we might be understaffed.”
Police academies are overwhelmed due to smaller class sizes because of COVID 19. The department depended on lateral transfers, or experienced officers from other cities to fill the gap.
Attracting New Faces
The Naperville Police Department tested about 400 applicants to be a police officer last year because of the department’s community-centric practices.
According to Arres, “We’ve had a community policing philosophy since I started here 20 years ago, and that has never wavered, and our officers do a great job of working with the community.
Being the fourth largest in Illinois also has its perks.
“We have a lot of opportunities that maybe some other departments might not offer. Opportunities for promotion, opportunities for specialty assignments, having our own SWAT team, having as many spots in investigations as we do,” Arres explained.
Arres said the department’s training program prepares officers well for work on the street, and has “always been ahead of the curve” with training policies and practices.
“We were training our folks in CIT training well before it became that much more noticeable or asked for. We’ve been doing implicit – explicit bias training for probably over five years now. So a lot of the new training that’s been asked for or required in policing are things we have already been doing,” he said.
“That again speaks to the men and women that work here. Having that vision, and having that creativity to stay ahead of the curve and keep us at the top like that, it speaks volumes to the folks that work here,” he added.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.
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