Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall Bids His Farewell

Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall is at the end of his watch as he’s retiring today.

Why Now?

“When the City Manager Doug Krieger hired me I said ‘you know Doug I believe in term limits’,” said Marshall. “The President of the United States [has] eight [and] FBI director has 10, so that’s what I’m looking at between eight to 10 years.”

Marshall’s Career

Marshall became Naperville’s 10th police chief back in 2012.

He started his career with the Will County Sheriff’s Office, and joined the NPD in 1977.

Marshall started off as a beat cop, and rose to become a detective, eventually retiring at the rank of captain in 2005 to accept the assistant city manager position.

He worked with Doug Krieger, who is now the city manager, for seven years before applying to be Naperville’s police chief.

“The decision to make him police chief here was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made since I’ve been in this position,” said Krieger. “And clearly, as it has played out, it’s been the right one.”

We interviewed Chief Marshall a week before his retirement.

We walked around the police building speaking with his fellow officers and got an exclusive look at the city’s new emergency vehicle.

“It’s my job too, in my position, to make sure we have things like this,” said Marshall. “And to make this case in front of the city manager and city council to justify equipment like this.”

Costing around $300,000 the Lenco Bearcat will be used in emergency situations like the Henry Pratt shooting in Aurora.

On Marshall’s office walls are accolades he’s earned over the years, pictures, and books, which have helped shape the Naperville police chief.

Perhaps the most valuable possession in Marshall’s office is a picture of his family. He admits that he missed out on events with his family because of his role as chief.

“Some of the feedback I got from my kids was that ‘dad when we talk to you you’re like half there. Half paying attention’,” said Marshall.

On a vacation in 2019 Marshall asked his family a question.

“How long should dad continue doing this,” Marshall asked his family. “What about next year 2020?”

But 2020 came around and Marshall knew quickly it wouldn’t be the year he would retire.

Civil unrest, a pandemic, and a tension filled presidential election put retirement in 2020 on the backburner for Marshall.

“I just thought it would’ve been bad form for me to leave the department in that time,” said Marshall.

However, when the calendar year turned over, Marshall and his family resumed conversations about his life after policing. They agreed summer would be a good time to for him to retire.

He leaves behind an illustrious career.

Over his years as chief, Naperville has been ranked one of the safest cities in America, crime rates and civil lawsuits have declined, community outreach programs like Shop With A Cop have helped strengthen community relationships, and he’s been able to make organizational changes within the department while maintaining a healthy relationship with the multiple unions.

He says he’s most proud of the police-training overhaul he’s been able to implement in his tenure, and Mayor Steve Chirico echoed those sentiments on Wednesday.

““Prior to your arrival we didn’t have that much emphasis on the training, it was just go out and do your job,” said Chirico. “Big difference in thinking and it really has paid off tremendously. Being professional, and being properly trained I think will probably be the legacy of [your career] and the biggest change you’ve made on this department.”

Chirico was one of many speakers who were able to share kind words at a farewell celebration and presented Marshall with a gift.

Another was a longtime friend of Marshall, Regina Brent, the founder and president of Unity Partnership.

Through Unity Partnership, Brent and Marshall have been able to better the relationship between the Black community and police officers in Naperville.

Brent, along with other members of Unity Partnership, presented Marshall with a plaque engraved with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,”

“Wow,” said Marshall. “That’s special.”

Cherry On Top

The crown jewel of Marshall’s career came recently as he was able to arrest Barry Lee Whelpley for Julie Hanson’s murder, a case that had been unresolved for nearly 50 years.

“To be able to announce at a press conference with those detectives standing with me up on that podium that we had finally solved this case after 49 years, like one of the detectives said to me, ‘Chief, that’s like the cherry on your sundae as you’re retiring’,” said Marshall.

Whelpley pleaded not guilty last week and his first pre-trial date set for August 26.

What’s Next?

So what’s next for Marshall after 37 years as a police officer, nine of those as chief? Well for starters, a name change.

“Some of the differences that are going to happen at our household is nobody is going to be called ‘chief’ anymore,” joked Barb Marshall, Bob’s wife. “We’ve already discussed it, we’re done.”

She added that Bob will no longer be able to have his phone at the dinner table, and hopefully will no longer get phone calls at 2 a.m.

Though Bob is getting some things taken away, he will get more moments like these where his granddaughter helps him out unwrapping one of his gifts.

Leaving The Department in Good Hands

With the City of Naperville announcing that longtime Deputy Chief, and Marshall’s right hand man over the years, Jason Arres being announced as interim Police Chief, Marshall feels confident that he’s leaving the department in good hands.

“My career is over,” said Bob. “It’s bittersweet because I’ve loved serving here. Coming from a beat cop to the police chief position has been a dream. I’m very proud of my accomplishments, [and] that I’ve been able to serve the men and women of this department, as well as the community.”

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.

 

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