At a village board meeting on Oct. 9, officials welcomed a new member of the Fire Department and learned a lieutenant in the Police Department is retiring after 28 years of service.

Mayor Anthony Calderone administered the oath of office to new firefighter Chris Mazurkiewicz, who previously served as a contract paramedic for a little over a year at the Forest Park Fire Department, according to Phil Chiappetta, deputy chief.

Mazurkiewicz, 33, is already academy-trained as a firefighter and was a member of the Broadview Fire Department for “about” four years, Chiappetta said. 

The deputy chief described Mazurkiewicz as “an active guy” who regularly participates in running races and recently competed in a triathlon.    

He replaces Miguel Casanova who resigned “for personal reasons” on July 11, according to Bob McDermott, fire chief. Casanova served eight years as a firefighter and, before that, two years as a paramedic.

Mazurkiewicz started at the Fire Department on Oct. 10 and McDermott said he expected him to be put on shift Oct. 15 after three days of orientation. His hiring puts the department back at its full strength of 23 members, which include Chief McDermott, Deputy Chief Chiappetta and three lieutenants. 

In another public safety-related personnel matter, Police Chief Thomas Aftanas informed village council members that Lt. Steve Weiler has announced his retirement after 28 ½ years with the department. His last day will be Oct. 31.

The Village Council unanimously approved Aftanas’ requests that the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners be directed to promote Justin Diano from sergeant to lieutenant and Nick Defors from officer to sergeant. Diano is the next sergeant on the lieutenant’s eligibility list and Defors is the next officer on the sergeant eligibility list, Aftanas explained. 

Diano’s tenure as a lieutenant will be short, ending with his retirement in January. Then, Aftanas will have to promote another sergeant to lieutenant and another officer to sergeant.

The retirements of Weiler and Diano and the previously announced retirement of Officer Harold Grimes will leave the department short-handed again. Aftanas had previously been given authorization to hire an officer to replace Grimes when he retires this month. He said he will seek Village Council approval to add two more officers in time to send all three to the next police academy session that starts in January. 

Aftanas had hoped to hire Grimes’ replacement in time to send the new officer to the police academy in September, but the hiring of Benito Marti and Arleta Kochan in August exhausted the eligibility list. A new list was created after a written exam was administered in September.

Weiler has been a lieutenant since 2002 and served as a sergeant for three years before then. 

“Steve’s experience and teaching skills, especially in the area of emergency preparedness, will be missed,” Aftanas said.

Diano has been with the Forest Park Police Department for over 16 years, joining the department after serving as an officer with the Wheaton Police Department for seven years. As a Forest Park detective, Diano served almost ten years assigned to the U.S. Customs task force. He was promoted to sergeant in 2014. Diano earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement administration from Western Illinois University in Macomb.

Defors has been with the Forest Park Police Department for over 13 years. He has been assigned to the criminal investigation unit both as a tactical officer and a detective before he was reassigned back to patrol. Defors earned a bachelor’s degree in wellness management from DePaul University in Chicago.

The addition of three probationary officers last December brought the department to full strength for the first time since 2015. However, a retirement and a resignation created vacancies filled by the hiring of Marti and Kochan.

Typically, a department will contract with a private company to help compile a new hire list. Forest Park, for instance, has used Chicago-based Stanard and Associates in past years. The hiring process includes mental aptitude, physical fitness, and psychological examinations; polygraph tests; and drug and medical screenings. 

The Fire and Police Commission, a three-member, mayor-appointed board that oversees the hiring process, also conduct interviews. In Forest Park, candidates with college degrees, prior law enforcement or military experience score additional points.