The Naperville Park District Police Department is celebrating 50 years.
Park Police History
The Park Police started out as a group of just four, but has now grown to nearly 30 strong.
“It was a very small operation so to see where we’re at now versus where we were then, it’s fantastic, it’s a great milestone,” said Park Police Lt. Mike Harrington.
The Park Police were officially formed on April 30, 1970.
They’re tasked with maintaining peace within all of Naperville’s parks and work in the philosophy of “achieving compliance through customer service.”
William Young was the founder and first chief of the department, signing his oath of office on July 30 of that year.
The mayor at that time, George Pradel, worked closely with Young. The effects of their work are still felt through the Park Police’s leadership today.
“That’s where all this started so when you talk about your roots, when you talk about a culture you see there’s that partnership, that camaraderie, with the community,” said Naperville Park District Executive Director Ray McGury.
Connected to the Community
Staying connected to the community is a prevalent theme during this time with recent protests.
That’s why it’s been key for the department to work with protest organizers.
“If we have any questions we get those questions answered and work through it and typically we don’t have any issues,” said Park Police Chief Steve Schindlbeck. “And the goal going forward is to continue having that dialogue with the organizers and facilitate these rallies and protests as long as we need them.”
Looking ahead, they hope to continue bringing in new officers and developing their current ones.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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