Mundelein's new police chief ready for 'big responsibility'
As they sit together in a conference room at the Mundelein police station, Chief Raymond J. Rose and Deputy Chief Eric Guenther symbolize the past, present and future of the department.
Rose, 65, has been Mundelein's top cop for the past 20 years. He's built the department into a well-regarded organization that's taken on everything from gangs to after-school programs for kids.
Guenther, 40, has spent his entire career in Mundelein, starting right out of college as a patrol officer in 1995. When Rose steps down Jan. 31, Guenther will become the next chief.
"It's a big responsibility," Guenther said. "But I'm confident in the mentoring and training and guidance I've received in the last 18 years, and I'm confident that we can continue the professional organization that we have."
Rose is particularly proud he and his command staff have been able to groom young officers -- to coach and counsel and mentor them -- in such a way that they're able to take leadership posts of their own, as Guenther soon will do.
"To be able to say that we've been able to produce leaders internally that are ready to step up into (these) positions is a pretty profound statement about the organization," Rose said.
The Daily Herald conducted the following interview with Guenther last week via email, just days after he was named Rose's eventual successor.
Q: You've spent your entire professional career in this department. You've risen the ladder from patrolman to chief. Was that the plan when you joined the department in 1995?
A: I am not sure it was the plan. when I started, I was simply happy to be a police officer and be working. As my career has progressed, I have set goals for myself personally and professionally, and as I would meet those goals, I immediately set the next one.
Q: You've not just spent your whole career in Mundelein, you've spent your whole career in Mundelein with Chief Rose leading the department. What have you learned from him?
A: He has a very strong work ethic, a never-quit attitude, and I think as time goes by those characteristics become second nature and ultimately became part of my personality.
Q: What one program or policy did Rose enact that you want to continue as chief? Is there one you'd like to change?
A: Chief Rose brought a strong belief in community-oriented policing, and I certainly see that remaining as our foundation. Our police department cannot obtain its full potential without the cooperation and support from its community.
Things change with time. While we will maintain many of the same philosophies, we have to be innovative and continue to look for ways to improve our services.
Q: Has he given you any advice on the job ahead?
A: 'Surround yourself with good people.' The good thing about that advice is there are plenty of them to choose from here at Mundelein.
Q: What is the mission of the Mundelein Police Department today? How has that changed since you joined the department? How do you expect it will change?
A: Our mission is and always has been to provide the very best service possible to our community. That mindset cannot change. We have to remember that we are here to serve the community and not the other way around. People's expectations are always growing, and we have to change with it. Law enforcement is a business that runs like any other corporation, we can't lose sight of who our customers are: the citizens. It is our responsibility to provide a good quality service that addresses their needs.
Q: When you joined the department, gangs and gang crime were a primary issue for the police force in Mundelein. What is the biggest issue facing the department today? What do you expect it will be in the near future?
A: Gangs are still a focus for our department. While we have had success in this area, these type of issues tend to be cyclical in nature, so we will continue to be diligent in our gang enforcement. Homeland security and domestic terrorism continue to be topics in which local law enforcement has taken a more active role in recent years. Remaining committed to these areas will require training and resources that must be planned for.
In addition, the welfare of our young people, including things like school violence and bullying will remain a top priority for me.
Q: Teen heroin use has been a growing topic of discussion in law enforcement in the Chicago suburbs. Bullying, suicide and gun violence have been in the news as well. Are these issues you will address as chief?
A: These are certainly issues that we all must address and are not exclusive to Mundelein. Prevention education has to be a priority, making sure that people understand the magnitude of these problems and are prepared to address it at all levels of the community: law enforcement, schools and parents. I really think it is important we acknowledge these issues as opposed to ignoring them or refusing to admit they are a fact of life. By acknowledging them, we have a better chance of combating them.
Chief: 'Surround yourself with good people,' is the advice outgoing chief gave