'I couldn't be more blessed': Buffalo Grove's Casstevens prepares to end 46-year police career

Steven Casstevens' last day as Buffalo Grove police chief, fittingly enough, will be Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

Casstevens began his law enforcement career 46 years ago in the military police with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.

“That's kind of always stuck with me, that that's where I started my career,” Casstevens said during a recent chat over coffee at the Buffalo Grove Police Department, where he's served since June 2013.

Casstevens grew up wanting to be a cop, so after leaving the military he went to work for police departments in downstate Mendota — where he graduated high school — and Peru. In 1981, he joined the Hoffman Estates Police Department and spent the next three decades there, rising to the rank of assistant chief.

In 2011, Casstevens was named police chief in Cary, a role he served in for about 2½ years before moving on to Buffalo Grove.

“Cary was a much smaller department. We only had 28 sworn officers. So you didn't have the ability to put together a lot of programs that I would have liked to have done,” he said.

In Buffalo Grove, that's included re-establishing the department's community relations unit and creating a unit in which plainclothes officers proactively target specific crimes. Such programs are among the many changes he's seen in law enforcement over the years, along with things like equipping officers with body cameras and the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, placing automated external defibrillators in squad cars and departments hiring full-time social workers.

Casstevens has put a premium on community policing as chief.

“Community policing isn't an assignment for an officer,” he said. “Community policing is a way of doing business for your police department.”

Casstevens also has given Buffalo Grove a national and international presence by serving first as president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and then the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It was my way of giving back to a profession that had been so good to me for so many years,” he said.

Buffalo Grove was one of the first departments to complete the international chiefs' One Mind campaign, which prioritizes mental health first aid for law enforcement professionals, along with crisis intervention training.

His yearlong term with the association also provided a chance to influence policy on issues such as the use of force — its National Consensus Policy and Discussion Paper on the Use of Force specifically addressed chokeholds. He also held a national platform, on which he spoke with the president of the United States, testified before Congress and appeared on C-SPAN.

Casstevens said he's grateful that Buffalo Grove officials like Village Manager Dane Bragg, village board members and his leadership team at the department supported that work, which involved international travel and time away from the department.

“I couldn't be more blessed at the professionalism of the people that work here,” he said. “And it's been a treat to end my career of four and a half decades here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”

When he says it's the end of his career, he means it. If you are looking for him post-retirement, you are likely to find him on the golf course.

“You will not find me being a police chief anywhere else. My law enforcement career is done,” he said.

Buffalo Grove hired current Western Springs police Chief Brian Budds to replace Casstevens. He begins Monday.

Buffalo Grove chief had big plans for international police group in 2020. Fate had other ideas.

Buffalo Grove chief talks about police reforms, meeting with Barr 'Nobody wants a bad cop working with them'

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.