Even though he's a 35-year police veteran, Wood Dale Chief Frank Biniewicz drops any tough exterior he might have when talking about his upcoming retirement on Aug. 30.
"When you think about it, I started here when I was 23 years old, so I've been a police officer longer than I've been anything else," said Biniewicz, 58. "I feel somewhat apprehensive."
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Still, the chief said, said its time for fresh blood to move up. Biniewicz has held every officer position, then served as deputy chief for 11 years before becoming chief in 2005 and leading the department through some major leadership transitions.
He also has been president of the DuPage County Senior Police Management Association and team leader of the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force.
"We had several command staff retirements, a new village manager and mayor, and I wanted to make sure we had some continuity of command," Biniewicz said. "But it's the right time to step aside and let other people have growth opportunities and make a new mark on the police department."
Biniewicz said he never dreamed he would have become a police chief, and credits his predecessor Frank Williams for mentoring him. He said the most rewarding aspect of the post was being able to remain in Wood Dale.
"It was rewarding to do it here, because I knew our constituency and the people of Wood Dale really well," he said. "I got a lot of support from the people and the department."
A lot has changed during Biniewicz's 35 years with the department, including the rise and successes of community policing, he said. But nothing has exploded more than technology, added Biniewicz.
"In '90s we early started with technology like sharing databases, and not just within the community, but within the county," he said. "It really helped us work a lot more effectively."
These changes allowed officers to track emerging crime patterns, record traffic stops and communicate with the department from the computers in their squad cars.
Retirement won't mean a complete goodbye for the chief, though. Yes, he will spend time pursing his love of aviation, since he spent time as a corporate contract pilot until 2004. And Biniewicz plans to pursue volunteer work.
But he also vows to remain active as a retired member with the DuPage County Police Chiefs Association, where he is currently secretary. And he will continue his role as chairman of the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group until end of the year.
"The best thing I can look back at are the people who supported me and the connectivity I had with them," said Biniewicz. "This is where we all developed our skills, and we all find a way to stay connected to the police department in one way or another."
City officials have not named a new Wood Dale police chief. An announcement is expected later this summer.