Rochelle News-Leader | RPD navigating retirements and upcoming hires
ROCHELLE — Rochelle Police Department Chief Eric Higby said Monday the city is working to replace four retirees this year, one of whom has already passed.
Deputy Chief Jeff Leininger retired last month and was replaced by the promotion of Terry Inman. Higby said three more retirements are scheduled for the rest of the year and the RPD recently finished taking candidates for patrol officers at the end of January.
Next steps for hiring include written tests, oral interviews, and psychological, poly, background, and medical assessments before candidates go to the police academy in late April if they’re hired and if they don’t. haven’t already done so. Higby said the DPR could attract lateral candidates who have already worked as officers elsewhere, which could lead to a new hire more quickly down the street.
The three scheduled retirements are currently scheduled for the remainder of the year. Potential promotions would fill these positions and open patrol officer positions for new recruits.
“It’s very difficult,” Higby said. “When you start having to make changes, it complicates things further. Summer is a busier time with the police and people have holidays and we will have to replace the detectives. You have to bring people up before you need them and you need bodies to replace the retirements. It will be hard with the timing. We have to stick to our schedule. »
Higby said he had six places in the police academy which he could use this year if needed for new recruits. He would like to hire four agents if RPD loses four due to retirement this year. The hiring would ultimately go to City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh.
Applications across the country for law enforcement positions are down. But, Higby said he was pleased with the recent turnout the city has received for its openings. As far as the head knows, similar agencies receive 6-8 applications for vacancies. The RPD received 18.
“It’s not bad right now,” Higby said. “I think Illinois laws as well as national police department coverage play a role in the number of applicants and qualified applicants we get. I know when I tested here years ago there were 150 people testing for 1-2 positions and now it’s 18 tests for four different positions.
Higby called the situation for candidates “unfortunate” and said the hiring process is all about finding good candidates.
“It’s work that is close to our hearts,” Higby said. “This will continue to be a job that needs to be done by qualified people. We always receive quality candidates, there are just fewer of them.
Higby said that as police work changed over the years, more manpower was needed. Officers are spending more time on things like training and working on the Freedom of Information Act due to changes in the laws. Although more training has taken place, there is still time to patrol. And more training requirements will come in the future, he said.
Inman was sworn in Monday to take office as deputy chief. John Kaltenbach, who was recently promoted to detective sergeant, was also sworn in. Both men will also be sworn in at an upcoming city council meeting.
Higby called Inman’s new deputy chief position a “critical position” within the department. Inman will serve as chef when Higby is unavailable and manage the day-to-day aspects of RPD. Inman has a master’s degree and “all the necessary experience,” Higby said.
RPD is authorized to have 21 sworn officers. He now has 20 since Leininger retired. Over the years, with the movement of officers to school resource positions at Rochelle Township High School and Rochelle Middle School, fewer officers have been available for patrol.
“If these guys were still on the streets, we’d be full,” Higby said. “Would we like additional people? Sure. But these costs add up and that would be a lot of additional costs.
In addition to the four retirements scheduled for this year, Higby said there are at least three other officers in the department who may retire. Any officer with 20 or more years on the job or coming over 50 is eligible for retirement. That’s why the city started planning for this “a few years ago,” but unfortunately new officers can’t be sent to the academy that far in advance, Higby said.
The leader called institutional knowledge and having veteran officers important. The RPD is fortunate to have mid-career officers who can be promoted to replace retiring officers, Higby said. The training will also ease the transition, as new sergeants will need to attend supervisory school and new detectives will also receive further training.
“It will take some time to get things working the way they should,” Higby said. “I don’t think it’s a concern for the future of the department. We have good supervisors in place and we will hire hard. The new ones are good. They start on the street and work hard and become more experienced and complete. An infusion of youth is good.