Mundelein high school putting cops in the classroom - as teachers

Cops have been in suburban high schools for years, working as "school resource officers" who deal with criminal matters on campus, taking action against unauthorized people on school property and building relationships with students and teachers.

The Mundelein Police Department and Mundelein High School teamed up this week for a new twist on the concept - cops in the classroom.

In what's expected to be the first of many guest lectures by officers, Investigator Tom Poynor served as teacher Tuesday during a criminal law class, instructing students on the finer points of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

"One of the ideas is to let the students get to know officers on a different level," Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther told us. "We have to keep looking for ways to create these partnerships and make these connections with our youth."

<h3 class="leadin">Streetside view

Cmdr. Fred Kliora, a former school resource officer, suggested the idea late last year, Guenther said. The high school figured the best spot to try it out would be in teacher Mary Plucinski's criminal law class.

"I can read the case law, but having never been a police officer I really don't know the practical way they apply the law on the street," said Plucinski. "Having a police officer come in who experiences this on a daily basis really helps."

Investigator Rick Wilfenger taught the class Thursday, focusing on forensics and evidence gathering, and officer Chris Callas next week will discuss arrest procedures.

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  Investigator Tom Poynor is one of several Mundelein police officers who will serve as guest lecturers at Mundelein High School this year. Gilbert R. Boucher II/

Benefits beyond the classroom

While teaching students is the primary goal, the classroom sessions already are sparking interest in law enforcement careers among Plucinski's students; five stayed late after class Thursday to ask Wilfenger about the job.

Guenther also hopes the partnership fosters better relationships between his officers and the community's young people.

"When you explain to somebody what you do, why you do it and the reasoning behind it, 90 percent of the time a light goes on for them," he said.

<h3 class="leadin">From cop to clergy

Both of us recall being on the receiving end of former Kane County Sheriff Kenneth Ramsey's wrath over items published in the Daily Herald back in the day.

Former Kane County Sheriff Ken Ramsey has a new mission - spreading the gospel as a Roman Catholic deacon. Courtesy of ken ramsey

And Ramsey was, he admits, a hard-charging, blunt-speaking guy. He called county board members "clueless," "autocratic" and "backstabbing." He flirted with a contempt of court charge for refusing a judge's order. He was sued by a former jail chaplain. He proposed housing inmates in tents one summer because of jail overcrowding.

But the colorful sheriff's life took a turn we would not have expected: After leaving public service in 2006, Ramsey studied for six years to become a Roman Catholic deacon. He was ordained in 2014.

Ramsey will discuss "From Carrying the Badge to Carrying the Cross - My Faith Journey" at the 48th annual Batavia Brotherhood Banquet, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Batavia. For tickets ($15 a pop), visit

<h3 class="leadin">Safe suburbs

Say what you will about the winter weather, road congestion and state politics, but at least the suburbs are among the safest places in America, according to the website

  Lake in the Hills is the seventh-safest city with a population above 25,000 in the country, according to a study conducted by Brian Hill/, 2011

The site's annual list of the country's 100 safest cities (with populations of more than 25,000) includes three suburbs in the top 12 and 18 among the top 100.

The highest ranking are Lake in the Hills at 7, Bartlett at 9 and Buffalo Grove at 12. Others ranking highly include Wheaton (32), Hanover Park (37), Huntley (43), Hoffman Estates (46), Arlington Heights (49) and Palatine (51).

The site says it compiles its list by crunching data on criminal offenses from more 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

<h3 class="leadin">Love can hurt (your wallet)

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, love is in the air.

So are love scams, according to the Better Business Bureau.

The agency this week warned romantics to be on the lookout for scammers and unscrupulous businesses looking to take advantage of consumers who've caught the love bug.

"That includes everything from identity theft to romance scams," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Some tips:

• Don't send money to someone you've met through an online dating site.

• Order flowers early, and only through a reputable operation.

• Beware the "Flirt-bot," an automated chat program that works with an instant messaging site and tries to get victims to share information about themselves, then directs them to a site where they are asked for a credit card to prove they are 18 or older.

• Be careful opening online valentines. Malware can be installed on your computer, allowing hackers to steal personal information. If you receive a Valentine's Day e-card, check with the sender before you click on the link.

• Got a tip? Have a question? Please email Charles Keeshan and Susan Sarkauskas at, or call our tip line at (847) 427-4483.

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