Bensenville's new police chief: We need to embrace community
The night before Thanksgiving, Bensenville's new police chief brought the shift to a community dinner at Grace Lutheran Church to meet his new community.
"I asked the officers to spread out and talk to the people one-on-one and the community really embraced us," Chief Dan Schulze says now. "It was touching. I couldn't have been more proud. We're going to continue working to earn the respect and trust of the community."
Schulze, who took over on Nov. 14 after former Chief Frank Kosman retired, says the dinner was just one of the ways in which he hopes to learn about his new community, which he has driven through daily to get from his home in Wood Dale to his previous job in Schiller Park.
"In modern policing, a police department really needs to embrace the community that it serves," he says. "We serve this community and I want to learn everything I can, even though I've lived on one side of it and worked on the other for so many years."
Schulze started his career as a patrol officer in Schiller Park and retired in 2013 as the department's chief. Bensenville Village President Frank DeSimone is a detective with the Schiller Park department.
"When Chief Kosman retired and this opened up, naturally it was of interest to me," Schulze says. "I watched Bensenville grow and I've seen a lot of changes. I like what I see here with the new administration, so it was of interest to me and here I am."
Once he received Kosman's retirement plans, Village Administrator Evan Summers says he formed an ad hoc committee to prepare for a nationwide search for the next chief.
"We knew we wanted somebody to follow in (Kosman's) footsteps and also offer a new vantage point," Summers says. "We knew Chief Schulze was available, so we sat down with him before we ever did that search. Looking at him and his experience and technical background, it offered us the opportunity to acquire a top-tier chief without having to do that nationwide search."
Schulze, who founded his own database software company, also wrote and created a forensics class taught at Northwestern University, He says he plans to bring his technological expertise to the department.
"Technology seems to leapfrog itself every day. There's always better ways to get information and better ways to interface with the community," he says. "Bensenville has already begun to bridge some of those gaps through social media, so the community can be in touch with the village and police department. We're going to continue to improve on that."
Summers says village officials were impressed with how Schulze created budgets and maintained operational costs, commanded an investigative unit, and supervised more than 50 investigations as the lead task force detective during his time in Schiller Park.
"He was able to start a lot of new programs at his former employer without adding cost to the village. And he's excelled at finding grants and managing efficiently, so he's got the technique we're going to implement here," Summers says. "We're going to have more police out on the street without increasing the overall payroll of the department."
After 30 years, Schulze says he retired from Schiller Park because his pension was maxed out and he was working for "pennies on dollar." Prior to accepting the new position in Bensenville, he declined to pay into the village's pension plan and will not be allowed to collect a second pension from the village.
When he's not working, Schulze says he enjoys working with his database software and honing his skills as an amateur photographer.