Deputy police chief known for community involvement retiring in Gurnee

Gurnee Deputy Police Chief James Caldwell, known for his participation in a variety of community service endeavors, is retiring from his longtime village career.

Caldwell's retirement is effective Friday. He'll have spent 30 years in law enforcement, including the last 25 in Gurnee.

Police Chief Kevin Woodside said Caldwell has been a true partner in helping to lead the department as deputy chief for the past 2½ years.

Woodside and Caldwell together climbed the police ranks since starting in Gurnee about a year apart in the late 1980s.

"I will miss his friendship and our daily interaction," Woodside said. "His wisdom and experience have been essential to leading the Gurnee Police Department to where we are today."

Caldwell, 52, said he'll miss more than just his police department colleagues. He became an active community member through helping to launch the Jon Callaghan Memorial Turkey Trot benefiting various charities and neuroblastoma research, volunteering at the Gurnee Park District's annual Fall Fest and other projects.

A particular source of pride for Caldwell has been the Thanksgiving Day race named for Jon Callaghan, a Gurnee Elementary District 56 student who died from neuroblastoma in 1997. Caldwell said the race has grown from 10 participants to more than 700 who joined the 20th annual trot last Thanksgiving.

"One of the pillars of our (police) mission is community involvement," said Caldwell, whose family name will continue at the department because his son is a Gurnee officer.

Woodside said Caldwell served on the turkey trot committee for each of its 20 years and was active in planning and promotion.

"Jim has been the face of the Gurnee Police Department for this event," Woodside said, "and he has given countless hours of his own time to the event, which has become a Thanksgiving tradition in Gurnee."

Caldwell served as a police officer in North Chicago from 1984 to 1989 before joining the Gurnee force. In his 25 years in Gurnee, Caldwell held many positions including 10 years as detective unit commander before his final elevation to deputy chief.

He and his wife, Michelle, will be moving to Arizona. However, they won't depart until they enjoy being this year's Gurnee Days honorees and leading the festival's parade in August.

The Caldwells were selected as the Gurnee Days honorees because of their volunteerism. Michelle Caldwell, who's retiring as Community Trust Credit Union's marketing director, has dedicated time to causes such as the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life in Gurnee and Grayslake.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

James and Michelle Caldwell will be the honorees of this year's Gurnee Days because of their volunteerism. Courtesy of Gurnee Days Corp.
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