William Czajkowski will become the new Palos Heights police chief on March 5. (Supplied photo)

William Czajkowski will become the new Palos Heights police chief on March 5. (Supplied photo)

Czajkowski named new Palos Heights police chief

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Larry Yott retires after 50-year career

By Jeff Vorva

William Czajkowski joined the Palos Heights police force in 1988 as a part-time officer when he was 24 and he remembers his first day well.

“I was scared as heck,” he admitted. “I was very nervous.”

He obviously got over his first-day jitters and began climbing the ladder in – and outside – the department to the point where he was named to a task force with the U.S. Customs Service and globally targeted West African heroin traffickers and Columbian drug money launderers.

On Monday night, he climbed the highest rung he could in Palos Heights as the city council unanimously voted to name him the new police chief and Mayor Bob Straz announced that current police chief Larry Yott was retiring after 50 years on the force.

Czajkowski takes over on March 5.

“He’s been around forever,” Straz said after the meeting. “He grew up here in town and his father [also named William] was an alderman and our building commissioner. The family has devoted itself to the city of Palos Heights.

“He’s always around the community. I see him all the time as he is a visible face in the city of Palos Heights. He knows everybody.”

Czajkowski, a Sandburg graduate, was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2000 and deputy chief of patrol operations in 2008.

As deputy chief, he maintained command and control over the department’s field operations and assisted Yott in the overall administration of the department.

His job description included training, mentoring and providing guidance to department members, analyzing information and developing plans for cost effective utilization of manpower and equipment as well as supervising the department’s patrol functions, including first-line supervisors of the patrol, traffic and community service officers.

“I’ve waited for this moment for a long time,” Czajkowski said. “I couldn’t have a better mentor than Larry Yott. It will be a true honor to serve.

“We’ve had a nice time, here. We’ve raised our children here.”

Czajkowski has been married to his wife, Janet, for 32 years. Their son, Eric, is a police officer on the Palos Heights force and their daughter, Monica, is a forensic interviewer for the Children’s Advocacy Center at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

Yott’s impact on the city will be felt for a long time, according to Straz.

“He’s put a lot of time in, and he has done a great job,” Straz said. “We have a premier police department and it’s because of the leadership and he’s been the top guy.

“Hopefully he will find some time to relax. We owe him a lot. He’s done a lot for our city. He was full of innovations and trying different things.”

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