Why Illinois State Police are changing standards for recruiting push

  • Illinois State Police are looking to broaden their ranks with a recruiting push this month. As part of their effort, the agency is easing its educational requirements to attract "more people from different walks of life."

    Illinois State Police are looking to broaden their ranks with a recruiting push this month. As part of their effort, the agency is easing its educational requirements to attract "more people from different walks of life." Associated Press Pool photo by Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune, 2019

 
Posted1/17/2020 5:28 AM

Illinois wants you.

It might not have the same ring to it as the "Uncle Sam Wants You" phrase that adorned military recruiting posters of the past, but the message is the same: Reinforcements are needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Faced with a bevy of retirements in the next two years and already staffed at levels well below what they were a couple of decades ago, the Illinois State Police are making a big recruiting push this month.

Part of that push is reducing educational requirements. While a bachelor's degree used to be a must, state police now will accept candidates with an associate degree or 60 college credit hours.

Trooper Aldo Schumann, the northern recruitment coordinator for the state police, told us he doesn't believe the lowered requirements mean they're accepting lesser candidates. Instead, he said, they're widening the pool of potential state troopers.

"We're able to get more people from different walks of life who want to serve their communities," Schumann said. "Four years of college isn't for everybody."

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Along with that change, Schumann noted that while the agency has a minimum age to join -- 21 -- there's no maximum. People well into their 40s or even 50s can join, so long as they can make it through the 26-week Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield.

Why the push?

A big reason for the recruiting campaign is the need to restock the agency's patrol division -- which Schumann called "the bread and butter of our agency." It's facing promotions as well as retirements.

Like departments nationwide, the state police have seen their ranks declining in recent years. Last year the agency reported that its patrol staffing was down about 20% from where it was about 20 years ago.

"The job has the potential to be dangerous, but if you're willing to take on the challenge, it's a great opportunity," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Want to know more? Move fast. The deadline to apply for the next cadet class, which begins in August, is Jan. 31. Visit www.illinoistrooper.com for application details.

Cop becomes criminal

After spending decades of his life putting criminals behind bars, an ex-Chicago cop who retired to the suburbs soon will be joining them. A McHenry County judge Wednesday found Lorin Volberding guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the February 2017 slaying of his wife, Elizabeth.

Lorin Volberding
Lorin Volberding -

Authorities say Volberding fatally shot his 68-year-old wife -- also a retired Chicago cop -- during an argument in the couple's Spring Grove home. The small town's police chief said at the time it was the first murder in village history.

Among the evidence that led to Volberding's conviction was a recording of a voicemail he left a neighbor after the slaying.

"It's about 1:30. I think I just shot and killed Liz," Volberding said. "I need help."

He now faces a minimum of 45 years in prison when sentenced March 25.

Tips pouring in

The phone lines have been burning up at the Lisle Police Department since Monday, when authorities announced they'd solved a 44-year mystery surrounding the strangling of Pamela Maurer. The 16-year-old Woodridge girl disappeared Jan. 13, 1976. Her body was found the next day along College Road in Lisle.

Bruce Lindahl was identified this week as the killer in the previously unsolved 1976 murder of 16-year-old Pamela Maurer
Bruce Lindahl was identified this week as the killer in the previously unsolved 1976 murder of 16-year-old Pamela Maurer

Using DNA technology unavailable until recent years, authorities were able to link the slaying to Bruce Lindahl of Aurora, who died in 1981 when he accidentally stabbed himself while killing 18-year-old Charles Huber of Naperville.

Since a news conference announcing the discovery, Lisle police have received about 50 tips about potential other victims of Lindahl, Deputy Chief Ron Wilke told us in an email Thursday. DuPage County investigators have received some as well, he said.

On a personal note

This week's announcement in the Lindahl case hit close to home for one of us. Susan grew up in the 1970s in the same part of Woodridge where Pamela lived -- about three blocks away.

Pamela Maurer
Pamela Maurer

Susan was five years younger than Pamela, and Woodridge back then was the kind of place where 11-year-olds could be sent to the grocery store alone to return empty pop bottles for the deposits or get a gallon of milk.

Parents didn't drive you to school, let alone every baseball practice or piano lesson. It was the kind of place where you were told to go play outside, where playdates were knocking on a screen door and asking if so-and-so could come out, where you could explore creeks and vacant lots and patches of scrubby "woods."

It's not that we thought there was no crime. Parents taught "stranger danger" tips and drilled in the importance of locking up bikes.

But still, it was a pretty good place to grow up. Unfortunately for Pamela, the childhood Woodridge offered was cut far too short.

• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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