The Forest Preserves of Cook County is seeking applicants for Chief of Police
The Forest Preserves of Cook County is seeking a forward-thinking leader to manage and oversee the activities of the Forest Preserves Department of Law Enforcement. The department includes 130 FTE personnel, including six civilian staff, 94 officers, 16 sergeants and a command team who protect one of the largest and busiest forest preserve districts in the United States.
The selected Chief will have broad experience in public safety and conservation, the ability to manage and motivate a large and diverse workforce, a proven track record for developing and implementing strategic priorities, and a commitment to equity and procedural justice.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County:
Cook County is the second most populous county in the United States and includes the City of Chicago. Within this diverse urban metropolis, the Forest Preserves of Cook County protects 70,000 acres of forests, prairies, wetlands, woodlands and other natural areas including rare habitats that offer plant and animal diversity on par with the rainforests of the world. Thanks to dedicated restoration and conservation efforts, native plants and wildlife—including North American river otters, blue spotted salamanders, native orchids, and birds such as bald eagles and bobolinks—continue to return to or flourish in the preserves. Each year, the Forest Preserves receives an estimated 62 million visits, as people use these lands and facilities to enjoy nature, bicycle, hike, fish, cross-country ski, picnic, canoe, or simply relax. Facilities located in the preserves include nature centers, boat rentals, equestrian stables, golf courses and driving ranges, and aquatic centers. Among the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County are the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden, two world-class institutions located on the district’s land.
About the Forest Preserves Police:
Forest Preserves police officers perform a dual role which includes the conventional duties of a police officer and the duties performed by conservation officers. Forest Preserves officers are state certified and receive specialized training in conservation and ecology from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They are ambassadors to the public, perform conservation roles like checking for fishing licenses, and help protect habitat and wildlife–including rare and endangered species. Forest Preserves police officers are deployed on three shifts a day, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In addition to traditional patrols in marked police vehicles, Forest Preserves officers conduct high-visibility patrols in the preserves, on and off the trails, on foot, bicycle, boat, ATV and through other methods.
To uphold and enforce all State, County and Forest Preserve District laws and ordinances in order to serve and protect citizens visiting the Forest Preserves, and protect the property and natural lands of the District.
Model Policing Initiative and Strategic Priorities:
The Forest Preserves of Cook County recognizes that the deep racial and ethnic inequities that exist today are a direct result of structural racism which has evolved and persisted throughout our country’s history. We are committed to applying a racial equity lens to future investments, policies and operations in order to meet the Preserves’ nature conservation mission in the most equitable way.
The Forest Preserves Police Department is well positioned to adopt, implement and embrace recommendations from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and other best practices to respect, serve, and protect the people of Cook County. In the past decade, there have been no officer involved shootings and no excessive use of force cases involving Forest Preserves police officers. Traffic stop data indicates there is not a problem with racial profiling, and Forest Preserves officers consistently earn high marks in the district’s annual customer service survey.
In 2020, the Forest Preserves proactively launched a model policing initiative to: (a) maintain and strengthen police and community relations, (b) create a work culture that is inclusive and equitable to all people, and (c) support a diverse police force through recruitment, retention and promotion. A number of actions are now underway to achieve these goals. The district has trained all members of the department on implicit bias and adopted Ten Shared Principles developed by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois NAACP to guide the relationship between law enforcement and the community. We are rolling out body worn cameras for all officers, and we are in the process of updating all policies and procedures to reflect best practices related to use of force and de-escalation. We are also updating the department’s strategic plan to focus on six priorities over the next five years. These include:
1. Build trust and legitimacy with the community.
2. Develop clear and comprehensive policies.
3. Promote positive organizational change and better communication across ranks.
4. Ensure officers have the technology, tools and equipment they need to do their jobs and to keep safe.
5. Provide training and opportunities for advancement to all personnel throughout their careers.
6. Develop strategies to recruit officers who can succeed and grow at the Forest Preserves.
Compensation and Benefits:
Salary: Up to $132,000 annually DOE/DOQ, plus an assigned vehicle. The Forest Preserves of Cook County offers a competitive benefit program.
Application Process and Recruitment Schedule:
A full job description is below. To be considered, please submit your cover letter, resume, and a list of six professional references (who will not be contacted in the early stages of the recruitment) by 5 p.m. on July 16, 2021 to Eileen.Figel@cookcountyil.gov. Resumes should reflect years and months of positions held, as well as the size of the previous program or department you have managed or administered.
Resumes will be screened based on the criteria outlined in this brochure. Candidates with the most relevant qualifications will be invited to interview. The selected candidate will be subjected to an extensive reference and background check.
The Forest Preserves of Cook County is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We value our employees and the different talents, expertise and viewpoints that each brings to the table. We believe a robust exchange of ideas results in better decision-making and we commit to providing a constructive, safe and positive work atmosphere that promotes mutual respect and empowers individuals to thrive in their jobs.
Under the direction of the General Superintendent of the Forest Preserve District, upholds and enforces all pertinent State of Illinois, Cook County, and Forest Preserve District laws and ordinances in order to serve and protect citizens visiting the Forest Preserve District and to protect the District’s property and natural resources.
Responsible for the preservation of law and order for the safety of all patrons of the Forest Preserve District and citizens entering the FPD’s sites and properties.
Responsible for directing the activities of supervisors and their subordinates along with the support staff to function expeditiously and efficiently while performing the department’s daily operations.
Prepares bi-weekly reports on activities and major incidents; confers with the Forest Preserve District General Superintendent so as to debrief him/her on major incidents and/or occurrences happening within the Police Department’s jurisdiction and/or designated forest preserve areas. Makes recommendations on various departmental activities, disciplinary results, promotions and departmental budgetary items as needed to the General Superintendent to be approved and presented to the County Board of Commissioners.
Establishes working relationships with other Police Departments (i.e., city, village, county and state) for communication purposes in order to deal with providing assistance and solving crimes with all the citizens living in the surrounding communities and with those visiting the various Forest Preserve District facilities.
Attends various community meetings and special events to communicate general information, provide safety tips and assures the public of their safety in and around all the County’s forest preserves.
Provides supervisory direction on response procedures during major incident events involving homicides and suicidal attempts made on grounds belonging to the Forest Preserve District.
Attends hearings and completes paperwork on disciplinary actions against officers not following the rules and regulations of the department.
Occasionally monitors radio calls to assure that officers are using their radio professionally and according to departmental procedure.
Conducts field inspections of Forest Preserve Police Officers to verify proper uniformed attire is being worn, and for those officers who were involved in complaints or who violate Forest Preserve District general orders, rules, and regulations.
Monitor daily field assignments for work activities occurring and to verify radio calls, time sheets, car sheets, travel vouchers, equipment use, etc.
Bachelor’s degree or higher in Criminal Justice or related area.
Ten (10) years or more of Law Enforcement experience in the criminal justice field or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience.
Must be certified by the State of Illinois as a Law Enforcement Officer.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
Knowledge of municipal police administration and training management budget, administrative controls, legal technical and operating practices of law enforcement.
Knowledge of mutual aid, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and functions.
Knowledge of rules of evidence, arrest, custody of persons, search and seizure, and civil rights.
Knowledge of related constitutional legal and court decisions affecting police jurisdictions.
Ability and skill to learn all rules, regulations, policies, patrol operations, procedures, reports and record system of the Forest Preserve District Police Department.
Skill and ability to communicate with professionalism to diverse groups, as well as various levels of rank and title.
Skill and ability to supervise, plan, assign, coordinate and direct the work assignments of support staff.
Ability to keep abreast of community trends and development through personal observation and study; and, the skill in leadership to administer policy of the Forest Preserve District to the general public.
Ability to assess major emergencies and their solutions.
The duties listed are not set forth for purposes of limiting the assignment of work. They are not to be construed as a complete list of the many duties normally to be performed under a job title or those to be performed temporarily outside an employee’s normal line of work.