A lot of recovery has taken place at the Schaumburg Police Department since it was shaken by the arrests of three undercover officers on drug conspiracy charges a year ago.
But among the changes still to come, one stands out as the highest priority for new Police Chief James Lamkin: encouraging all employees to fully contribute their ideas and insights on running the agency effectively.
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"We go out and ask people to do a hard job," Lamkin said last week, his first in charge of the village's police force. "We miss a hard target if we don't ask their opinions of how to do their jobs the best way."
Of course, police departments are inherently layered organizations and not everyone may instantly embrace the idea of offering their opinion. But Lamkin believes he can win the trust of his new staff and encourage them to participate in the way he envisions.
"If you spend a few minutes with me, you find out I like to hear what you have to say," he said. "People will grow to find that what I say is what I mean."
Lamkin sees his role as providing inspiration to employees to be their best, with the ultimate goal of serving the public well. With squad cars regularly patrolling the village's neighborhoods and business districts, he holds that police are always the most obvious presence of local government and pivotal in establishing its tone.
Though Lamkin has now taken over, interim chief Ken Bouche and his law enforcement consultant firm, Hillard Heintze, will continue to assist with the transition and the implementation of recommendations it made last year in the wake of the three undercover officers' arrests.
Schaumburg Village Manager Brian Townsend said Hillard Heintze's role is winding down and as such its contract is being reduced from $70,000 to $29,000 per month. Its work is expected to be complete on about May 1.
Between now and then, Hillard Heintze employee Carl Anderson will continue in his role as interim deputy chief while he, Lamkin and Bouche work together on strategic planning for the department, Townsend said. The position of permanent deputy chief has now been advertised and is expected to be filled within the next few months.
Lamkin began his career with 23 years at the Elgin Police Department, where he reached the rank of deputy chief. Elgin is a bigger suburb and larger department where Lamkin said he learned all the important aspects of police operations.
For the past 10 years, Lamkin served as police chief in St. Charles, where he was able to reflect on and implement the things that worked well.
He views his new role as a great opportunity in a suburban community comprised of both a large residential population and a busy daytime corporate presence.
Among the tasks he'll be taking on as chief is working with other suburban departments to organize a regional vice unit. That would help replace Schaumburg's special investigations unit, a group that was disbanded after the three officers' arrests.
Though the Elgin Police Department had its own vice unit while Lamkin was there, Hillard Heintz suggested it would be inappropriate for a department Schaumburg's size.
Over the course of Lamkin's career, the use of technology is the aspect of policing that's changed the most, he said. Today the interior equipment of a squad car has become just about as costly as the car itself, he noted.
But this change has been a necessity rather than a luxury, allowing police departments to keep pace with the rest of the world as well as their own particular responsibilities, Lamkin said.
Keeping with his belief that the police department is the most visible aspect of village government to its citizens, Lamkin said he will be looking for ways to make himself available to residents once he's settled in.