New Gurnee Police Chief Kevin Woodside says he has initiatives he's ready to pursue that include building on some successful community programs.
Woodside was sworn in as Gurnee's top cop last week after the village board unanimously ratified his appointment by Mayor Kristina Kovarik. He had been acting police chief since Robert Jones departed in September.
In an interview Tuesday, Woodside said he wants to continue building the police department's partnership with the community.
Part of the effort will involve a modification to the Neighborhood Watch program that encourages residents to be the eyes and ears for police in the area where they live.
Crime prevention technician Tom Agos typically has led the neighborhood meetings with residents. However, Woodside said, more beat officers will be encouraged to attend the meetings.
"It's an opportunity for them (residents) to get to know firsthand the officers who are patrolling their neighborhood," said Woodside, who joined the Gurnee Police Department in 1988.
Gurnee's Citizens Police Academy also is on Woodside's agenda. He said the program was reduced to one class a year, but he hopes to return to two annual sessions.
Residents who sign up for the academy receive a working knowledge of Gurnee police practices, policies and procedures. The instruction occurs during 12, three-hour weekly blocks.
"That's another program that gives us face-to-face contact with the community," Woodside said.
Woodside said the police department already has a solid foundation. He said he intends to involve as many employees as possible in discussions if any major departmental changes are planned.
Former mayor Donald Rudny appointed Woodside as deputy police chief in 2004. Kovarik cited Woodside's strong administrative skills and his community knowledge as reasons why she appointed him as top cop.
On the administrative end of the department, Woodside said he wants to pursue creation of an electronic format for a policies and procedures manual that fills a three-ring binder. He said digitizing the policies and procedures would allow for easier employee access and updating.