After 47-year career, Sleepy Hollow police chief retiring today

  • Sleepy Hollow Police Chief Jim Linane, left, addresses the media this spring about a man charged in an April 8 home invasion, sexual assault and stabbing. Linane was planning to retire at the end of April but decided to stay a while longer to oversee the investigation.

      Sleepy Hollow Police Chief Jim Linane, left, addresses the media this spring about a man charged in an April 8 home invasion, sexual assault and stabbing. Linane was planning to retire at the end of April but decided to stay a while longer to oversee the investigation. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Jim Linane

    Jim Linane

 
 
Posted7/15/2019 5:40 AM

Sleepy Hollow Police Chief Jim Linane knows he has some doubters. But it's not his ability or leadership skills or passion that are in question.

No, his friends, family and even his officers have expressed doubts that, after 47 years in law enforcement, he'll be able to step away from the job and retire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm usually known as the Energizer Bunny," Linane says. "That's just me. That's my personality -- somebody that stays busy and likes to take care of things and fix things and make things better."

That's the influence he hopes he's had on each department for which he's worked. And when he finishes his last Sleepy Hollow shift today and hands the reins to his successor, Mike Rivas, that's the legacy he hopes he'll leave behind.

It was never Linane's intention to stay seven years in the small, quaint community nestled in the heart of the Fox Valley. In fact, he didn't plan to run the town's police department on a permanent basis at all.

Linane, an Elburn resident, spent the first 29 years of his career in Carol Stream, working his way up the ranks to deputy chief. He retired from the position in 2001 and then spent the next eight years as the police chief in Elburn before retiring again.

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He was focusing on teaching and consulting work when he was contacted by Sleepy Hollow officials in 2012. They were searching for a replacement for their longtime chief who had just retired, and Linane agreed to take on the interim role.

Immediately impressed by the newcomer's performance, Village President Stephan Pickett approached Linane the following spring and asked if he'd consider filling the position full time. It was more than what Linane had originally bargained for, but he agreed to take the job on a year-to-year contractual basis.

"And here we are seven years later," Pickett said. "His professionalism, his dedication, his attention to detail is just extraordinary. ... He's the kind of guy that when he makes a commitment, it's 100%."

Defining moments

Two of Sleepy Hollow's biggest, most public crime-related events happened on Linane's watch, and both were highly uncharacteristic for the quiet town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The first occurred in 2014 while Linane was at his granddaughter's baptism. His phone started buzzing "like crazy," he said, and when he finally called back, his sergeant told him there had been an officer-involved shooting.

Linane's 30-minute commute back to Sleepy Hollow was "the longest drive I've ever taken to work," he said. "I didn't know any details. That, as chief, is one of the toughest things."

An investigation later found officers were justified when they shot and killed a man who brandished a knife and tried to attack them. But as the village's first fatal police-involved shooting, Linane said, it took a toll on the department.

The second event occurred April 8, ultimately throwing a wrench in Linane's plans to retire at the end of that month.

He had been teaching a class and was driving into Sleepy Hollow when he saw three news choppers hovering -- the first clue that "it's not going to be a good day." Police say an armed Sleepy Hollow man had entered his neighbors' home, sexually assaulted and stabbed a 19-year-old woman, and then stabbed her 17-year-old brother when he tried to intervene.

The investigation was handled well from the start, Linane said, but his successor hadn't been chosen yet, and he knew he would need to stick around to oversee the case.

"Those were two major incidents that, as a chief, you hope you never have to handle," he said. "But you take a deep breath and you do your job."

The next chapter

Staying a few extra months allowed Linane to be involved in selecting the department's next chief. Rivas, former deputy chief of Wood Dale, is expected to be sworn in today.

"I think he's an excellent choice," Linane said, noting he will work with Rivas closely to ensure a smooth transition.

Under his leadership, Linane says, the department has updated its policies and procedures, improved its facility and become more professional.

For no reason other than "it's just about time," he decided this would be the year he'd step aside, though some of his peers remain skeptical that he'll follow through.

Linane plans to continue his teaching and consulting work during retirement (he'll be collecting a pension from Carol Stream and a combined pension from Elburn and Waubonsee Community College, and a retirement plan with Sleepy Hollow). But he also wants to spend more time golfing, fishing and relaxing with his family at their second home in Galena.

"When I first got into it, did I think I'd be in law enforcement 47 years? No way," Linane says. "It just grows on you, and that's where my heart has been. I guess this is what I was meant to do."

He paused for a moment. "I'll see what the next chapter brings."

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