Elk Grove Village police chief to retire Friday after 32 years with department
Elk Grove Village Police Chief Charles Walsh has announced he will retire Friday, wrapping up a 32-year law enforcement career spent entirely in the village.
Walsh was hired as a patrol officer in 1991 and rose through the ranks to become chief six years ago. His tenure heading the department of 90 sworn officers and 30 civilian employees was marked by the pandemic response and making preparations for a 2021 presidential visit by Joe Biden to the Elk Grove Technology Park.
But his legacy will be development of Elk Grove Village Cares, the village's opioid and addiction treatment program. Launched in 2018, the initiative diverted the police department's approach to substance abusers from one of criminal justice to medical treatment.
Shortly after appointing Walsh chief in late 2016, Mayor Craig Johnson tasked him with developing the program when the mayor saw one of his former high school wrestlers who had fallen victim to opioid and heroin addiction.
"You, Chuck, can always know you spearheaded it, you took it, you ran with it, and I say God bless you for it," Johnson said at a village board meeting Tuesday night, when he read a proclamation declaring the chief's retirement day Friday as Charles Walsh Day.
Walsh had been talking with the mayor and village officials about a potential retirement for the past year. On Tuesday, he had a long list of thank-yous for the mayor, village board, staff, the rank-and-file, his family, and finally, the community.
"A lot of times you'll see stuff in the press about police departments that have done the wrong thing and that's the thing that leads the news," Walsh said. "But it is really a wonderful thing when we see comments on our Facebook page about what we do right."
Walsh recently administered the rollout of police body cameras, after having implemented a video system in squad cars. He brought adjudication for local ordinance violations in house, and helped negotiate two police contracts. He also helped create a program with Northwest Compass to assist homeless individuals.
He is an Air Force veteran who retired as a sergeant after serving in Texas, Montana and a tour of duty in Korea.
Deputy Chief Dan Burke will serve as acting chief until an interim chief is identified with assistance from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, village officials said.
Then the village will look for a permanent replacement who has a record of building partnerships with residents and businesses, fighting crime and ensuring that officers "continue to have all the resources and guidance they need to keep our community as safe as it possibly can be," Johnson said.