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updated: 11/18/2013 4:23 PM

Schaumburg finds new police chief in St. Charles

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  • James Lamkin

      James Lamkin

 
 

St. Charles Police Chief James Lamkin believes his decades of experience can help restore the Schaumburg Police Department's reputation of professionalism after a troubled 2013.

Schaumburg officials announced Monday morning that Lamkin had been chosen from among 83 applicants to lead the beleaguered department into better times. He will begin in Schaumburg Dec. 30.

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The Schaumburg department was hobbled early this year after three undercover officers were arrested on drug conspiracy charges and the then police chief retired after a yearlong investigation into his personal life.

Schaumburg Village Manager Brian Townsend said Lamkin's extensive career, knowledge of the region and approach to policing were enough for him to rise to the top of the candidate pool. Townsend was St. Charles city manager before he came to Schaumburg in late August.

"I worked with Jim for eight years," Townsend said. "He's trustworthy. He's hardworking. He's everything I need in a police chief."

Lamkin worked for 23 years in Elgin, where he attained the rank of deputy chief. He became police chief of St. Charles a decade ago. A graduate of Columbia College of Missouri and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., he will have a starting salary of $150,000 per year in Schaumburg.

Lamkin said he applied for the job specifically with the idea that his experience could help play a role in Schaumburg's continued recovery from a difficult year.

"There's a lot of good people who work there," Lamkin said. "I want them to be the focus for a while."

Though Lamkin is at a point of his career when some police officers choose to retire, Townsend said he's expecting to get more than a few years out of the new police chief. Pending retirement plans were the reason some candidates for the job were passed over early on.

"The window I was looking for was really five to 10 years," Townsend said. "I hope Chief Lamkin is here as long as he wants to be. He's excited. He's committed."

Lamkin confirmed that he sees his new job as a long-term commitment.

"I want to make things better before I leave, and that's not going to be instantaneous," he said.

Lamkin will serve Schaumburg as a sworn police chief, and therefore will not yet be receiving any pension earned at his previous workplaces.

With Schaumburg having found two of its top administrators in St. Charles in recent months, Townsend believes people may begin to see that there are similarities between the two communities.

"St. Charles is something of an economic hub in Kane County, just as Schaumburg is at a larger scale in the Northwest suburbs," Townsend said.

Lamkin said a commitment to community policing, courtesy and professionalism are something the two police departments have in common. But he believes his experience in Elgin is what likely kept him in the running to lead a department of the size of Schaumburg's.

The Schaumburg Police Department's difficulties this year began with the Jan. 16 arrests of three undercover officers on drug conspiracy charges. Officers John Cichy, Terrance O'Brien and Matthew Hudak subsequently resigned.

The arrests came just two days after the Cook County State's Attorney's office cleared then police chief Brian Howerton of criminal wrongdoing over his estranged ex-girlfriend's complaint that he had stalked and harassed her during and after their 18-month relationship. Howerton resigned in April, the same month an internal village investigation also cleared him of the stalking claims, but found he had violated a department policy prohibiting visitors in police facilities for reasons other than village business.

In June, another officer resigned after Cook County authorities charged him with official misconduct, alleging he improperly kept a handgun that was turned over to the police department for disposal.

Schaumburg hired Chicago-based law enforcement consulting firm Hillard Heintze to conduct a three-month study of its police department's operations and formulate recommendations for improvement. Hillard Heintze Chief Operating Officer Ken Bouche has served as interim police chief since Howerton's retirement.

Among Hillard Heintze's 55 recommendations were dropping the Special Investigations Bureau the three arrested officers had belonged to, on the basis that such a unit was inappropriate for a department of Schaumburg's size. The consultants suggested instead joining a regional task force to address such vice crimes.

St. Charles City Administrator Mark Koenen said his city initially will make an interim appointment to succeed Lamkin in late December.

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