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updated: 7/3/2012 2:09 PM

Naperville police chief lays out six-point plan for department

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  • New Naperville police Chief Bob Marshall says he has a six-point plan for operating the department effectively and efficiently.

      New Naperville police Chief Bob Marshall says he has a six-point plan for operating the department effectively and efficiently.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer


When Bob Marshall became Naperville's police chief roughly a month ago, he said there were six major goals he wanted to accomplish in his first 100 days in office.

He didn't define those goals at the time, but spoke about them in detail when he sat down recently with the Daily Herald.

In today's second installment of a two-part series, Marshall outlines his six-point plan to keep the Naperville department at the forefront of law enforcement, discusses his role in the community and promises to never again dance in public.

Q. Shortly after your swearing in, you said you had six objectives for leading this department. What are they?

A. The first is delivery of police services, crime fighting strategies and best practices. What that involves is exploring how we are using intelligence and crime analysis to proactively address crime and how we provide services to the community, whether it's criminal or not criminal.

Many of our calls are noncriminal in nature so we not only have to fight crime but respond to service calls. I want to make sure our technology is one step ahead of the criminals.

The second is the organizational structure and culture. I want to get a current assessment of what our culture is and how that plays into our organizational structure.

The third is managing the budget. I have to use that money wisely and be a good steward of money to run this department. So tracking expenditures and ensuring they do not exceed revenue is a top priority. We need to ensure our programs are providing value and meeting the needs of the community. We also need to ensure our staffing levels are appropriate.

Fourth is talent assessment and succession planning. What tracks do we have for employees who want to advance in the organization? My first day here I thought about when I was going to leave and who can take my place. I want to develop a staff to succeed myself and other retirees.

The fifth is union relations. The sergeants and FOP contracts expired April 30. I've started negotiations along with our legal department and both unions. We need to develop open communication, meet regularly to work on issues collectively and hopefully reach agreement.

Q. Was it a strategic move on either side to wait until a new chief was in place to begin those negotiations?

A. Both unions contacted me immediately after I was appointed and I met with them when I was still the assistant city manager. I got feedback about the general perception they had of our organization even before my formal swearing in.

My goal was to build relationships with both bargaining units. Whether they waited until I got there, I guess you'd have to ask them, but I think that's a safe assumption.

Q. The last negotiation 18 months ago led to police officer protests outside city hall and the laying off six officers.

A. Things will be different this time. Things are going to be better. In my conversations with the unions, neither of us want to repeat what happened a year and a half ago.

Q. There's one more objective?

A. The last one is building intergovernmental relationships with the park district, school district, library, Rotary Club, the homeowners group. I will ensure we have regular, open conversation so they feel they can let the police department know their needs and we can be responsive.

Q. Every official taking a new office talks about how important it is to be visible. How do you balance a schedule of running a police department and being seen?

A. I was on the job five days and I got a message from my special events sergeant telling me I had to lead the Memorial Day parade. What a great opportunity because I'm talking about being visible in the community. I had the opportunity to walk and lead the parade with our motorcycles. I shook hands with people. I gave kids high fives and I heard a lot of congratulations. People who didn't know who I was now know who I am because I walked in that parade five days after being appointed. So I want to continue doing that.

But I need to find a balance because I've got 270 people here counting on me to provide leadership on a daily basis and there's 144,000 residents who want to know who their police officers and police chief are.

I'm not going to do this all by myself. I have a great staff and a lot of talented men and women in this police department who will assist me in getting into the community to provide the service we're committed to provide.

Q. What is the strength of the department and what do you want it to be?

A. We deliver exceptional police service in a very timely and professional manner. That is a strength right now.

As we look to the future we want to ensure we continue to build on the reputation of this department. I have to do that with less resources than chiefs had four or five years ago. So I have to think differently. We need to look toward better use of technology and how we can expand what we do on the Internet, such as taking police reports and interacting with homeowners groups.

I want to provide crime statistics to homeowners and business groups. I want them to be able to log into a website and be able to see what kinds of crimes are occurring in their neighborhoods.

Every three days a new and improved cellphone comes out and the criminal element uses these. We need to ensure our technology can keep pace. Security cameras are another example. We have downtown cameras and we will be looking at ways to maximize their benefits.

Q. Tell us something not too many people know about you.

A. I'm not a good dancer. I participated in the Naperville Dancing with Celebrities event and I will never do that again. I was recognized for best footwork. I took seven lessons, which did not translate into my performance. Boy did I get razzed about that, but it was for a good cause.

Every once in a while you have to get out of your comfort zone and try something different. This clearly was outside of my comfort zone to do a country dance in front of 300 people. My own daughter told me to never do that again and the judges told me to stick to my day job.

Q. You smile a lot more than most chiefs.

A. You noticed? That's what people say here, too. A lot of feedback I've received is people saying "We've never seen Bob happier." I've worked for the city for 30 years and I know a lot of people here and I'm smiling a lot because I'm happy.

I have twin boys and I heard them talking the other night after they turned their lights. Mikey says to Robbie, "Why is dad in such a good mood?" and Robbie said, "Because he's doing a job he loves."

They were little when I was a captain so they don't remember much but when they saw me first put this uniform back on and smile, the just recognized that "Hey, this guy's really happy."

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