Retired Illinois State Police Capt. Dan Roach's new assignment as the Schaumburg Police Department's commander of investigations is another step in the agency's reorganization triggered earlier this year by the arrest of three undercover officers on drug conspiracy charges.
But while he leads the department in working toward a new way of addressing gang and drug crime, other aspects of its investigations division have been continuing professionally and skillfully all along, Roach said.
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"There's this overriding professionalism," he said of his new colleagues. "These people have never dropped the ball. Our investigative staff is outstanding. These guys are top of the line."
Though the officers' arrests in January -- followed by the retirement of former Chief Brian Howerton in the wake of his own scandal -- dealt a blow to department morale, Roach today sees law enforcement professionals holding their heads high and eager to fulfill their mission of public safety.
"I'm picking up more on a sense of optimism," Roach said. "I think a lot has already been accomplished."
Roach's hire last week follows a consultant's report in July recommending several improvements within the Schaumburg Police Department. The department's interim chief, Ken Bouche, is chief operating officer of the consulting firm, Hillard Heintze.
Roach said he wants to be part of the team that helps implement the recommendations. But unlike Bouche's role, Roach sees nothing "interim" about his new position.
One of the biggest changes Roach will oversee is the formation of a new model for dealing with gang and drug crimes. Those cases previously were handled by the department's Special Investigations Bureau, which was disbanded shortly after the arrests of three of its members -- former officers Terrence O'Brien, Matthew Hudak and John Cichy.
Like Internet crime, drug offenses are usually multijurisdictional, so Roach hopes to see greater regional cooperation among the area's police departments.
During his 26 years in law enforcement -- 22 in investigations -- Roach was involved with many high-profile cases, including the Lane Bryant homicides in Tinley Park, the Drew Peterson cases, the Vaughn family murders and the Northern Illinois University shootings.
The most significant lesson he learned over that time was the importance of interpersonal communication -- the key ingredient in both preventing and solving crimes for any law enforcement professional, he said.
And while he picked up some further professional skills during his more recent time as an adviser in the private sector, he learned more important about himself.
"I'm a person that needs a mission and a team," Roach said. "I'd like this to be my second career. I'm not done yet. I still have a lot of fire left in me. I believe in the mission."