Willow Springs PD patch

Willow Springs PD patch

Willow Springs police release year in review report

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By Carol McGowan

Willow Springs Police Chief Jim Ritz recently released the department’s 2021 Year in Review Report.

The report, which was presented to Mayor Melissa Neddermeyer and the Willow Springs Village Board, is an overview of the programs, activities, accomplishments, and statistics that highlight their achievements last year.

In the report, Ritz stated that 2021 and the pandemic presented some unprecedented challenges not just to the police department, but to village residents.

“Despite these challenges, the members of the Willow Springs Police Department
incessantly served our community with professionalism and compassion,” Ritz said. “As a department, we commit to embracing the highest standards of professional policing excellence and being transparent with those we serve. We encourage and support the exchange of information with our community in order to coordinate further department activities and continue to foster our community prevention and awareness programs.”

Ritz stated that the department is committed to serve in a professional manner, and their crime prevention and community-oriented policing initiatives begin with the residents of Willow Springs, who are active in their neighborhoods and communicating with the force.

“Our officers will always do their best to try and take the time to interact with our residents, engage citizens in positive ways, and strive to provide the highest quality of services that are expected and deserved,” he said.

“As police chief, I take great pride in our department’s commitment to excellence in law enforcement
and our continuous delivery of professional services to the Village of Willow Springs. We share that
common perspective with our community in continually building our community partnerships that focus
on those who compromise our safety and our quality of life in our village. We will remain to be a “safety
conscious” community while being devoted to achieving our mission through the continued support of
our residents.”

The WSPD has a new department patch, designed by department personnel.  It symbolizes the history of the department and village, the American flag, and the thin blue line colors in support of law enforcement.

Other highlights are:

  • After a year-and-a-half mission of working with the Department of Justice and the
    federal Drug Enforcement Agency our department was proud to accomplish our
    goal of again regaining full “Eligibility” status with the Equitable Sharing Program of the
    Department of Justice. Due to mismanagement and improper use of funds by previous
    administrations, our department was placed on a permanent “Ineligibility” status and
    unable to receive any federal funding or federal grant award consideration – this was a
    great, great, great department accomplishment.
    • COVID Emergency Crisis Plan Policies were established to plan for mitigation and
    emergency response compliance, which created new department protocols in order to
    mitigate the spread of COVID-19 virus throughout the department. The department
    maintained and acquired the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including
    face masks, protective gloves, hand sanitizer, vital disinfecting equipment, and personal
    temperature thermometers.
    • By continuous review, and maintaining up-to-date Policies and Procedures, our
    department met all the requirements of the Federal Use of Force Policy and Reporting
    Act as adopted and signed by our past pro-law enforcement President of the United
    States of America. Our Use of Force Policy was reviewed, submitted, and approved
    through the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. As a department, we are proud to
    say we were approved on our first policy submission, because our Use of Force Policies
    and Guidelines were current and in accordance with all newly enacted state and federal
    requirements.
    • Revised numerous existing policies to meet the newly established changes to State of
    Illinois statutes in accordance with the newly enacted anti-law enforcement SAFE-T act.
    • Implemented and adopted several new policies related to Cybersecurity and responding
    to Cybersecurity Critical Incidents in accordance with all Criminal Justice Information
    Services (CJIS) and LEADS required mandates.
    • Promotion of two department Corporals to the rank of Sergeant
    • Promotion of one police officer to the supervisory rank of Corporal
    • Hiring of one new full-time police officer
    • Criminal Investigations Unit conducted several major investigations culminating in
    arrests, and/or arrest warrants being issued for of a number of offenders involved in
    serious felony and misdemeanor cases.
    • We started our first ever Child Protective Safety Technician Community Program with
    our newly certified officer.
    • Worked hand-in-hand with our local schools to participate and oversee their state
    mandated active shooter training drills.
    • Put into operation a new Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Team for our certified evidence
    technicians (ET) for processing our crime scenes.
    • Became a member of the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team (SMART).
    • Purchased through equitable sharing funds — at no cost to the village — a new
    department unmanned air system “Department Drone” which is a tremendous and
    valuable department resource.
    • Participated in the Special Olympics Illinois Coffee for Champions Event and raised over
    $6,700.
    • The Willow Springs Police Department teamed up with the Justice Police Department to
    take part in the Special Olympics Plane Pull event at O’Hare airport. Team Willow
    Springs/Justice was the second largest fundraiser team in the event raising almost
    $6,000 — thank YOU for your support of our efforts.
    • Attendance in very valuable training sponsored by the National Center for Missing and
    Exploited Children (NCMEC).
    • Started a new partnership with the Crisis Center for South Suburbia and their Domestic
    Violence Advocacy Program.
    • Hosted our 3rd Annual Shop-With-A-Cop event that was a tremendous success.
    • All full-time police officers being certified in Crisis Intervention Training
    • Executed a successful Emergency Operations Plan for the annual four-day WillowFest
    event.
    • Presented a Department Commendation at a Village Board meeting to our Special
    Olympics Team Captain Matt Szeszycki.
    • Special thanks to Police Chaplain, Al Hernandez, who works with many police agencies,
    for donating so many brand new Christmas Toys for those who attended the first ever
    Willow Springs Winterfest, which was attended by so many – thank you.

Congratulations and special recognition went to department personnel:

  • Corporal Bob Jennings in celebrating his 20-year anniversary of service to the Willow
    Springs Police Department.
    • Sergeant Jerry Jelinek on achieving his 15-year anniversary with the department.
    • Promotions of Corporals Jerry Jelinek and Michael Jurak to the supervisory rank of
    Sergeant.
    • Police Officer Ed McKinney being promoted to the supervisory rank of corporal.

The full report can be found on the Village of Willow Springs website.

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