Deputy Chief of Police Kenneth Gross, who has been acting police chief since the retirement of Tom Aftanas in September, will be nominated as the village’s top cop at an upcoming council meeting, Mayor Rory Hoskins said Monday.
Gross, 52, is a 21-year veteran of the Forest Park Police Department and has worked in a number of roles during his law enforcement career. Gross’ nomination must be approved by the village commissioners before it becomes official, something that could happen as soon as Nov. 8.
“I look forward to the challenges that the position’s going to bring,” Gross said of being nominated. “This is a great department. I look forward to leading this department and serving the community as I have for 20-plus years.”
Hoskins touted Gross’ experience and history in Forest Park in explaining his pick for chief of police and said he was not inclined to disrupt a department that, he said, “is a well-oiled machine.”
“I believe there’s value in continuity and Ken has been with the department a long time,” Hoskins said. “He’s well-respected by his peers and I’m comfortable with him.”
Gross was appointed at the recommendation of Aftanas, who named Gross his deputy chief in October 2019.
“I guess flattering would be the word,” Gross said of receiving Aftanas’ recommendation. “When I started, I expected to be here for 20-plus years and I expected to be a sergeant at some point. I never thought I’d be where I’m at now. It’s flattering that people had the faith in me to run a police department.”
Aftanas announced he would be stepping down in late June and even at that time Hoskins told the Review that he was likely to recommend Gross as the permanent chief. No search was conducted outside the department and Hoskins said no such search is required by village code.
“There’s no set process,” Hoskins said. “If we wanted to do an external search we could; we’re not required to.”
Aftanas took a similar route to the job, eventually spending 30 years with the department, including a stretch as deputy chief before ascending to the top job in 2015.
Aftanas’ last day on the job was Sept. 17.