Lake in the Hills village leaders are looking to select a new police chief from within the police department by month end.
Officials have interviewed three internal candidates who applied to fill the post after Director of Police and Public Safety Jim Wales retires April 30.
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Village President Paul Mulcahy said Wednesday he wants a sworn police officer leading the department, which has 38 sworn officers, including two divisional chiefs heading up patrol and support services, six sergeants, 26 patrol officers, and 18 full-time civilian employees.
"I'm looking for leadership and progressive thinking, and (someone with) professionalism," Mulcahy said. "We have an outstanding police department and we need to find somebody that's going to continue that and build on it."
Wales, 59, retired as the village's top cop in 2004, yet he stayed on as a civilian director of police and public safety. He was only the second police chief -- after Irv Floress -- in the village's 62-year history.
"That speaks well for the town," Wales said. "The stability in this position is unusual."
It was Wales' first police job after working three years as a public safety officer at Harper College in Palatine. He has served 35 years with the Lake in the Hills Police Department.
"It's been a long and very fulfilling career but it's time for a new direction," Wales said.
Wales said he plans to travel more with his wife, sell real estate after recently getting his broker's license, and provide consulting for law enforcement.
Wales' service with the department has been exemplary, Mulcahy said.
"Jim is outstanding," he said. "He has been a tremendous leader. He is almost single-handedly responsible for building the excellent police department that we have. There is always room for improvement. There's always new things that a new chief has to keep his eye out for. I've always liked that we have been at the forefront of new programs."
Mulcahy said the village board likely will appoint Wales' successor at the March 25 board meeting.
"I think we've got some very qualified people in our department, well-trained and ready to move up into a position like this," Mulcahy said.
Hiring from within can be good for morale and give employees an opportunity for upward mobility within the organization, he added.
"One of the hallmarks of our department has been training," Wales said. "Especially in law enforcement, ensuring there are people who can come up through the ranks for redundancy for emergency purposes is important."
Wales said he will work with his successor to ensure the transition is seamless. Looking to the future, he said two important issues his successor will face are technological advancements affecting law enforcement and tighter municipal budgets.
"We are entering a new age," Wales said. "We're positioned well to meet the needs of the community, but I think that we need to be prepared to address the technological and computer-related issues both within the department and also the dramatic increase in crime related to technology."
Wales said towns rebounding from this recent recession also have to provide an effective level of police services with reduced revenues.
"There's finite resources and that's going to be a challenge, not just for our community but for any community," he said.
The salary range for the police chief position is between $97,000 and $134,000. Wales is making $126,000 yearly.