Mundelein's Chief Eric Guenther named ILACP 2018 Chief of the Year
SPRINGFIELD – Mundelein Police Chief Eric J. Guenther has been named the 2018 Chief of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. The award is for leadership in his community, leadership in his own police department and the law enforcement profession, and service to the association. ILACP is a 1,300-member organization representing more than 450 agencies in Illinois.
Guenther will receive the award April 27 during the association’s Annual Awards Banquet in Peoria, at the conclusion of the 2018 Annual Conference. He was selected by the association’s Board of Officers from a pool of nominations from different parts of Illinois. “It is incredible how highly regarded Chief Guenther is among his peers in Lake County, and for good reason,” said Ed Wojcicki, the ILACP Executive Director.
Among Guenther’s accomplishments cited by the Illinois Chiefs:
• His role in creating the Lake County Opioid Initiative and the program called “A Way Out.” This is a diversion program that allows law enforcement to help place drug abusers into substance abuse programs. Guenther made a presentation on this program in 2017 at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia.
• His implementation of a Latino Police Academy, “which has become a huge success in our community,” his nomination said. “The academy opened lines of communication and built trust between the Latino residents and the Mundelein Police Department. This academy became so popular that a second session was added later in the year to keep up with the demand. Furthermore, graduates of the academies enjoyed the experience so much they formed a Latino Police Academy Alumni Association.”
• Other community policing initiatives, such as a Women's Self Defense class twice a year, an A-May-Zing Mundelein event, a day to help senior citizens of the community, Citizen Academy, Senior Academy, and Junior Academy.
• Implementation of employee wellness screening for all Mundelein Police Department sworn officers. The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force is also looking to mirror this program with all task force officers. This reflects a growing national concern about the physical and psychological health of sworn officers and how they handle and process the tragic events they see and experience.
• The local awards the Mundelein Police Department has received. Also, the Daily Herald commended the department in 2017 “for its new program in which officers serve as classroom teachers at Mundelein High School. The more non-adversarial contact between kids and cops, the better.”
• While a deputy chief, Guenther and former Mundelein Chief Ray Rose, along with Deputy Chief Michael O’Brien, co-authored an article for the international Police Chief magazine in 2011 about promoting services for the Hispanic community. This was part of Mundelein’s broader community policing philosophy, which has been in effect since the early 1990s.
• Guenther has the distinction of being a Certified Police Chief by ILACP, which means he has mastered the knowledge and skills to be a successful 21st century police chief. About 10 percent of active Illinois chiefs have this certification. Also, his department has achieved National Accredited Agency status “With Excellence” by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
Guenther has been the Mundelein police chief since 2013. He was also named Director of Public Safety on an interim basis in 2015, with oversight of police and fire. He was first hired by the Mundelein Police Department in 1995 and climbed through the ranks of investigator, sergeant, commander, and deputy chief.
“The Village of Mundelein should be very proud of its chief because he excels in so many ways,” said ILACP President James R. Kruger, who is also police chief in Oak Brook. “Chief Guenther cares a great deal about the community he serves, the officers in his department, and the role of law enforcement in society.”
Guenther earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in Criminal Justice-Law and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in Public Safety Administration. He attended two prestigious professional development schools: the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia. He also attended the Senior Management Institute for Police hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
2017 winner: Chief Nicholas Gailius, Fairview Heights
2016 winner: Chief Timothy McCarthy, Orland Park