Phillip Perlini has started a new era at the Grayslake Police Department.
Accompanied by his family, two former bosses and others, Perlini was sworn in last week as Grayslake's police chief. He replaces Matthew McCutcheon, whose resignation July 1 came about three months after authorities accused him of causing an alcohol-related crash in Kenosha County, Wis.
Perlini, 51, a longtime central Lake County resident, was Glenview's deputy police chief when he took the job as Grayslake's top cop. He was hired as a full-time cop in Glenview in 1984 and spent the next 28 years with the department in several areas including sergeant, commander and deputy chief.
He's been a certified emergency medical technician for the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District since 2001.
Perlini was 18 when he launched his career in what previously was known as the radio room of the Park Ridge Police Department.
Grayslake Mayor Rhett Taylor said he's "very excited" about Perlini heading the village's police department, which also is contracted to cover neighboring Hainesville. Taylor said it's believed Perlini is the only police chief in the state who's an emergency medical technician.
Perlini, who will receive a $132,000 base annual salary as police chief, took time to answer questions from the Daily Herald before his swearing-in ceremony at Grayslake village hall. Following is an edited transcript:
Q: What led you to apply for the Grayslake position?
A: Well, I've lived in the area for over 20 years and I've known the town. Obviously, I drive through the town every day. I just know a lot about the town. I know Larry (retired Grayslake chief Herzog) relatively well. I worked for him at a young age in Park Ridge. I work for the fire department also, the Round Lake fire department. I was trained by some of the Grayslake firefighters. A lot of connections here.
Q: What's your first order of business as police chief?
A: Getting to know everybody, getting to know the town (better). A couple of the sergeants and myself have met a few times. I've met almost all the officers. There's one or two I haven't met yet. But I'm kind of driving around town, trying to figure things out, getting a flavor for the culture here and how to handle calls and things like that.
Q: Any early impressions of the police department?
A: I know for a fact we have a lot of good workers here. (Recently) they had quite a few pretty heavy-duty calls, all handled well. I know they've got a good relationships with the (Lake County) state's attorney's office and have got a good relationship with all the neighboring departments. It's running very well here. It's not like I stepped into something that's broken or anything like that.
Q: You've mentioned you want police work delivered in a personal way to residents. What would be some examples?
A: Personal contact goes a long way with people. I've already gotten a few phone calls from people about different things, traffic complaints or things like that. I called them back. I haven't actually gone out and seen anybody yet, but I've gone and looked at the problems they've spoken about and shared them with the people here and how I'd like to handle those problems, how I'd like to follow up on those problems. Everybody here is really good about following things up, and I think there is more of a well-intentioned atmosphere here, where officers want to follow up properly, officers want to meet back with people and give them some sort of conclusion on what's going on. There's not always time for that with every call, but they try. And that's the kind of personal delivery I'm talking about.
Q: Accusations by Wisconsin authorities that Matthew McCutcheon caused an alcohol-related crash created the job opening for Grayslake police chief. Did you consider the possibly difficult circumstances before seeking the job in Grayslake?
A: How I consider that is, it's something that happened and something everyone's learned from. Not just here, but I mean everyone has heard about and learned from it and, I hope, taken away something from it. Matt's a good guy. Matt's still a good guy. As far as that goes, the department is moving on and we're beyond that. I really think they're at a level that's beyond that, both through (Acting) Chief (Jack) McKeever prior to me and now myself. And it represents that we know that that happened, it's in our past and now we're going to move on.
Q: Did you have to address the McCutcheon situation right away with the officers and other employees?
A: You know, I think that because of the police community as a whole, I think we all have the same understanding of it. I don't think I needed to address it. I think what we need to address is that we're moving beyond that. That was then, this is now, and let's pick up and move on. And everybody is ready to do that.
Q: How are you viewing the Grayslake police contracted coverage for the neighboring village of Hainesville?
A: Actually, Hainesville I'm a little bit more familiar with (than Grayslake), believe it or not, because working for the fire department, we serve Hainesville. ... I've met with Mayor (Linda) Soto a few times now, and I think we're on the same page as far as police work goes. It's a community-type of policing. Just like everywhere else, people want to look out of their window and see a police car and they want to feel safe.
Cop: Chief has met with most officers, and not discussed previous chief