Elk Grove Village could go a year without a new police chief
Elk Grove Village could go up to a year without a permanent police chief or even before starting an official search, Mayor Craig Johnson said Tuesday.
That's to allow enough time for Rich Mikel to coach and mentor the police department's command staff who eventually might be considered for the top cop job, Johnson said.
Mikel temporarily vacated his fire chief post to become acting director of police in May.
It comes amid a number of retirements and turnover in the department.
"We always thought Chief Mikel made the most sense because he knows the department, he knows the village, and he did the exact same thing when he came into the fire department," Johnson said. "Management is management, whether you're in the police department, fire department or public works. You still gotta have a good management team to make everything run. Rich is an expert in that area."
Johnson said the police department's day-to-day operations -- led by Deputy Chiefs Dan Burke and Christopher Torres -- are "phenomenal."
But Mikel's task is to implement best practices of management and leadership development, said Johnson, adding that Mikel doesn't wear a police uniform or carry a gun.
"He's been working on that aspect of the department before we go to a full-blown search for the chief," Johnson said. "We have a lot of good people in our department and we want to make sure that they're most prepared to also make an attempt to move up to the position. One of my big beliefs has always been if you can hire within, it's always best."
There's no guarantee Burke, Torres or another internal candidate will get the job, Johnson said.
Mikel came from the outside -- he was a deputy fire chief in Downers Grove and Naperville before his hiring in Elk Grove in 2012. But the former police chief, Chuck Walsh, moved his way up the ranks after starting as a beat cop in 1991. And Village Manager Matt Roan was an intern at village hall.
Officers from other departments have expressed interest in the chief's job, and Johnson anticipates the actual search won't take long once it begins.
"My goal is to make sure that all of our existing officers have the best opportunity they can have to go for the top spot," Johnson said.
Walsh stepped down in March after six years in the top spot. He now is director of safety and security in Lake Forest school districts 115 and 67.
Deputy Fire Chief Nathan Gac is serving as acting fire chief.