Wauconda police department employee celebrates 40 years on the job
When Deb Gompertz started working as a Wauconda police dispatcher in 1974, she simply was looking to boost her family's income.
She never expected she'd still be with the department 40 years later.
"I've just enjoyed working here so much," said Gompertz, now the executive assistant to Police Chief Patrick Yost. "I think I'm going to have a problem if I retire."
Gompertz reached the milestone Monday. In four decades, she's worked under 12 chiefs and alongside 188 officers and dispatchers.
Some of the department's current employees were children when she started on the job. Quite a few hadn't been born yet.
"I've been here the longest and I'm the oldest," said Gompertz, 64, of Arlington Heights. "I think they consider me like Mom."
Yost hailed Gompertz as an integral part of the police force.
"She's such a wonderful resource," he said. "She absolutely has a wealth of institutional knowledge."
Gompertz is the first person most visitors to the police station see.
Her office overlooks the main foyer. People walking through the front doors typically walk up to the counter and window that connects her work space to the lobby, where they'll ask to speak with an officer or inquire about paying a ticket.
"I like to meet the people," she said. "Hopefully when they come in here and see me sitting here, they know I'm friendly and I'm here to help them."
Gompertz was hired June 23, 1974, as a midnight-shift dispatcher.
She was married to a Lake Zurich police officer at the time. He worked the afternoon shift, so they split time at home with their three young children with little trouble.
Gompertz immediately loved the job.
"Because I was married to a cop, I knew the lingo," she said. "It was a lot of fun."
Wauconda's police chief then was John G. Now Jr., and he remains her favorite.
"He gave me the job," Gompertz said of Now, who died in 1994. "He let me learn all the ropes."
Gompertz was promoted to communications supervisor in 1977. She took on additional duties in 1992 as the administrative assistant to the police chief.
Gompertz's title changed to the chief's executive assistant in 2002.
That same year, she stopped serving as the communications supervisor, although she took on those responsibilities again from 2008 to 2010.
In her current post, Gompertz enters tickets and reports into the department's computer system, keeps records, deals with defense attorneys and prosecutors, arranges the village's administrative court schedule and handles many other tasks.
Gompertz also greets residents and other people who come to the police station for a variety of issues. She very rarely has problems with the folks who appear at her window.
She recalled the afternoon a man with some intimidating tattoos walked through the front doors and up to her window.
She was anxious and asked a nearby sergeant to assist her if necessary.
Turned out the man just wanted to pay a $100 fine for a village-ordinance violation, and he couldn't have been nicer.
"I would say 90 percent of them are really nice," Gompertz said. "And if they give me a little bit of attitude, I give it back."
Gompertz's co-workers gave her a gold and diamond ring this month to commemorate her employment anniversary. It has a "40" on one side and her initials on the other.
The ring also features a larger blue gem -- blue for police, she said.
Yost recently teased Gompertz a bit by pointing out how young many of her co-workers were when she started working for the department. She laughed it off.
Gompertz said the younger officers and dispatchers keep her young. Some have nervously asked if she plans to retire.
"I'm not going anywhere," Gompertz said. "Where am I going to go?"
A look back at 1974: Here's what else happened in 1974, the year Deb Gompertz started working for the Wauconda police• The Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) was completed.
• Future President Bill Clinton lost a race for Congress in Arkansas.
• Dr. Seuss' "There's a Wocket in my Pocket" was published.
• The Miami Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VII.
• Rock legends Kiss released their first album.
• "The Sting" won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
• Author Stephen King's first book, "Carrie," is published.
• Slugger Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's long-standing home-run record.
• President Richard M. Nixon resigned and was replaced by Gerald Ford.
• The film "The Godfather Part II" was released.