‘Life-changing experience’: Suburban chaplain assists police, peers in Israel

As the Carpentersville Police Department’s chaplain for more than 25 years, the Rev. Paul Zilinski has seen his share of tragedy and people struggling through difficult times.

But nothing he’s experienced in the suburbs compares to what the pastor of Fox Valley Baptist Church saw last month when he and a delegation of fellow police chaplains from the U.S. traveled to Israel to assist their peers in that nation at war.

“It was an absolutely fascinating and life-changing experience,” Zilinski told us.

Over a very busy week, Zilinski and 23 other members of the International Conference of Police Chaplains traveled across the country, working alongside rabbi chaplains with Israel’s national police force. They met with officers injured in the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, consoled families of those taken hostage by Hamas and visited with members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The Rev. Phil Zilinski fills boxes of food for those in need during his trip last month to Israel as part of a delegation of police chaplains. Courtesy of the Rev. Phil Zilinski

“We were there to provide comfort and care where it was needed, provide encouragement where it was needed and to share the love of God,” Zilinski said. “It was very humbling to be there to show support.”

Zilinski said he was especially impacted by his time at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, meeting the loved ones of those still held captive by Hamas, and with an injured police officer who’s also a single mother.

“Whenever you go someplace like that, it makes you see the world a little differently, and makes what you see on the news real,” he added.

‘Help lift them up’

Zilinski said he always had an interest in how first responders work, so when another local pastor was seeking volunteer chaplains nearly 26 years ago, he jumped at the opportunity.

Besides Carpentersville, he’s also assisted in East and West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow, Gilberts and Pingree Grove.

The work can be difficult, but also remarkably rewarding.

While vacationing in Florida a couple of years ago with his family, Zilinski said, he was eating breakfast at a local restaurant when a member of the wait staff approached and asked if he remembered him.

The Rev. Phil Zilinski poses at the Western Wall during his trip to Israel last month. The chaplain for the Carpentersville Police Department, Zilinski traveled to Israel to support police chaplains there. Courtesy of the Rev. Phil Zilinski

He did not, until the young man told him that Zilinski had comforted his family many years earlier after his father was killed in a fire in Carpentersville. The young man said Zilinski’s kindness helped his family in those dark days.

“(Serving as a chaplain) is a place where I feel I can make a difference in people’s lives when they’re at their lowest points,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to help lift them up.”

Armored vehicles

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain is looking to add a second armored vehicle to his motor pool.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is looking to add a second armored vehicle. This one was deployed last year during a response to a carjacking and shooting in Batavia. Daily Herald file photo

The county board will decide next month whether to let him buy another Lenco BearCat. It’s a cool $465,929 (base price $228,803, but then you add on the armored oil pan, the rear area air conditioning, an upgraded vertical gun port, the emergency-medical evacuation package, an upgraded hydraulic ram and more …).

Kane County SWAT team may get new armored vehicle

The sheriff plans to get rid of three military vehicles the department obtained through the U.S. military’s controversial Law Enforcement Support Office’s 1033 program, in which police agencies can get free surplus military equipment. Critics have said the program encourages militaristic attitude and practices among police, including intimidating the public.

Under that program, Kane County got two mine-resistant ambush vehicles and an armored personnel carrier. One vehicle is more than 40 years old.

Hain told the board’s judicial and public safety committee March 14 that the military vehicles are old, “publicly unpopular and really, not that useful.”

Champion for children

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids has named DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin its 2024 Champion for Kids. Berlin, who sits on the organization’s Illinois Executive Committee, was one of six recipients nationwide.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, center, with the 2024 Champion for Kids Award. He is flanked by fellow prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs at the Illinois Capitol. Courtesy of Sean Noble

Sean Noble, director of the Illinois chapter, said in a news release that Berlin has long shown a deep respect for the group’s work, which links public safety and investments in children’s development

“As a result of his dedication and advocacy, many thousands of kids are benefiting statewide from better opportunities for learning and growth,” Noble said.

Founded in 1996, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a bipartisan, nonprofit network of more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors nationwide that advocate for research-proven investments in children’s learning and development.

“Our mutual commitment to our children is vital to not only our communities, but also the quality of life enjoyed by our residents through reduced crime and increased public safety,” Berlin said in the release.

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