Des Plaines' new police chief, William Kushner, has taken the helm of a department in turmoil.
Kushner, formerly police chief in Lakemoor and a 35-year law enforcement veteran, was sworn in at Tuesday's city council meeting.
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His top priority will be addressing internal issues, including changes in the command structure with the departure of several high-ranking officers, taking charge of an ongoing internal investigation into the possible misreporting and misuse of a federal grant for a traffic enforcement program, and multiple lawsuits filed against the city and some of its officers.
Earlier this year, Des Plaines fired an officer and disciplined another cop accused of using excessive force. The city also is being sued by a former deputy police chief alleging wrongful termination and accusing top city officials of covering up police brutality.
Kushner said Tuesday he needs a few days to get settled before he could talk about issues within the department.
Des Plaines Fifth Ward Alderman Jim Brookman suggested the aldermen have a private meeting with Kushner in closed session. Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten said that could be arranged as part of a future public safety committee meeting, which is yet to be scheduled.
Kushner has said his first priority is sitting down with command staff, supervisors, and rank and file officers to talk about what's wrong with the department and what changes need to be made. He also is inviting residents who want to reach out to him to write letters, addressed to the city of Des Plaines.
Kushner was chosen from among 51 applicants from Illinois and several other states as part of a nationwide search following the December retirement of Police Chief James Prandini. City officials also considered one internal candidate.
Prandini retired after 31 years with the department, eight as police chief. Several top-ranking officers have retired since, including former Deputy Chief Angela Burton, leaving the department with only Deputy Chief Mike Kozak as Kushner's right hand man.
Finding Burton's replacement will be another top priority for Kushner.
Kushner's annual salary will be $136,000. He has 12 months to relocate from Chicago's Beverly neighborhood on the far Southwest Side to Des Plaines, per city code.
Kushner, 59, served 29 years with the Chicago Police Department in a number of positions, retiring in 2006 as a lieutenant/watch commander. He is collecting an annual pension of $89,850 from the Chicago Police Department. Kushner became police chief in Berwyn in 2006, where he served until a new mayor was elected. He has served as Lakemoor's police chief since 2010.