Promotions define police department

The number of police officers with less than five years of service has increased from two in 2016 to 10 today

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

A minor reorganization of the Forest Park Police Department leadership team was completed Jan. 14 when the Village Council approved the promotions of Chris Chin and Nick Petrovic. 

Following the retirement of Lt. Justin Diano Jan. 1, Chin was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant and Petrovic from detective to sergeant.

Mayor Anthony Calderone administered the oath of office to each Jan. 18.

"On a personal note, I am happy for Chris and Nick," said Thomas Aftanas, police chief. "They are respected by their peers and they do a great job. I am confident in their abilities and know they will lead by example. "  

Chin started with Forest Park in April 2008 and served the last 3-1/2 years as a sergeant. He received a bachelor's degree from Loyola University in Chicago with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology. He is on pace to earn a master's degree in public safety administration from Lewis University in Lockport in August. Chief Aftanas said he will be assigned as the administrative lieutenant in charge of training and the records department/desk clerks.

Petrovic started with Forest Park in July 1998. He has been a detective since April 2002. Petrovic has a bachelor's degree in Law Enforcement Administration from Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Ind. Aftanas said he will initially remain in the detectives unit but will eventually be re-assigned to patrol.

Diano's tenure as a lieutenant was short. He was promoted from sergeant in November to replace Lt. Steve Weiler, whose retirement took effect Oct. 31. Diano's position as sergeant was filled by the promotion of Officer Nick Defors. 

The promotions started in September, when Officer Dan Pater moved up to sergeant, replacing Eric Bell, who had been unable to work since suffering a "significant" shoulder injury while on duty in October 2016 and filed for duty disability in 2017.

In addition to all leadership positions being filled, the department reached full strength Dec. 28 when Brendan Reilly, 23, took the oath of office as a probationary officer. Combined with the additions of Marc R. Stone and Miguel A. Rios, who took the oath of office at the Dec. 19 Village Council meeting, the hiring fills the vacancies created by the departures of Diano and Weiler plus that of Officer Harold Grimes who retired in October.

Reilly, of Naperville, received a bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University in Macomb in May 2017. His major was law enforcement and justice administration and his minor was sociology. 

Reilly and Stone started a 3-1/2 month training at the Chicago Police Academy Jan. 7. On graduation, they will undergo three months of field training. 

Because he previously served with the Cicero Police Department for 11 years, Rios did not need to attend the police academy and began field training Dec. 18. 

The department has added 11 probationary officers since the beginning of 2017 although one dropped out of the police academy and another resigned shortly after graduating from the police academy.

The addition of three probationary officers in December 2017, added to the two officers hired previously in 2017, brought the department to full strength for the first time since 2015. Including Reilly, Rios and Stone, six officers were hired in 2018. Benito Marti and Arleta Kochan, who joined the department in August, are still at the police academy but expected to graduate this month. 

Aftanas said the number of officers with less than five years of service has increased from two in 2016 to 10, including the four officers still at the police academy. He also said the average length of service time in 2016 was 13 years, adding he does not know the current average but is sure it has "significantly dropped" due to the retirements. 

The department has 38 sworn officers, including one chief, one deputy chief, three lieutenants and seven sergeants.

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