By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (June 15, 2021) – The Village of Lansing has a new police chief: 23-year department veteran Al Phillips.
Phillips, who most recently held the position of Detective Lieutenant in the Lansing Police Department, was sworn in as chief during Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting.
Mayor Patty Eidam introduced Phillips to the board and the public at the meeting and provided an overview of his service. Phillips has held the positions of patrol officer and paramedic, detective, patrol sergeant, village preparedness coordinator, patrol lieutenant, and detective lieutenant during his 23 years, and has also served as field training coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
“I am confident that Al’s proven leadership skills in each of those positions helped prepare him for this position,” Eidam said.
Phillips has a master’s degree in public administration and graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.
Phillips was chosen out of a pool of over 100 candidates, said Village Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust, who is a former Lansing police officer and was involved in interviewing chief candidates along with Mayor Eidam, Village Administrator Dan Podgorski, and then-Interim Police Chief Rick Slough.
Passion for unity
“I’m excited,” said Lansing’s new Police Chief. “It’s so great to have such support from our board, our mayor, our administrator. It’s very comforting, with the comfortable faces I see up there that I’ve known for 20-plus years. I’m excited. I really am.”
Phillips said he’d always dreamed that he might be Police Chief one day, but never thought the day would come. He said his main goal was to do criminal investigations, which is what he has been doing in his Detective Lieutenant role.
“That was my passion for such a long time, and I got a chance to do it, and I’m very happy that I did,” he said. “But since I’ve gotten in there, I see that I’m dealing with a lot of victims — helping them, which I love, and helping our guys solving crime, and I’m thrilled about doing that — but I see that this world is going through a difficult time right now and I think I can do more.”
Eidam said she agreed with the plan Phillips has created for the LPD moving forward. Although the details of the plan were not disclosed during the meeting, Phillips told The Lansing Journal his plan has at least 15 points and is focused on, among other things, building better relationships with the community. Specifically, he mentioned a “Chat with the Chief”-type program he’d like to start, as well as a greater emphasis placed on community policing. He also said “diversity, equity, and inclusion” will be a priority for him, as well as forming a stronger relationship with the Lansing Human Relations Commission. He also mentioned a diversity scholarship he’d like to start.
“We’ll see if we can’t build a bridge to unity, instead of the division,” Phillips said. “I want to see our community come together, and I’m really excited about that.”
Hiring Lansing’s 10th chief
Lansing used REM Management, a management company for whom former Lansing Police Chief Daniel McDevitt serves as a consultant, to help conduct the search process for a new chief. Eidam said Lansing used the company to recruit, assess, and screen applicants.
According to Zeldenrust, the pool of 100 applicants was eventually narrowed down to four finalists, three of whom were from the LPD.
With his swearing in, Phillips becomes Lansing’s tenth police chief, succeeding former Chief Dennis Murrin, Jr., who retired in January after decades with the department. Deputy Chief Rick Slough served as chief in the interim.
Other promotions and appointments
The newly-sworn in chief promptly swore in one of his own, promoting Patrol Officer John Tomaszewski to Sergeant.
The Village Board also voted to approve Eidam’s appointment of Robert Collins to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. Collins currently serves as police chief in Dolton, IL.
The Lansing Police Department is located at 2710 170th Street.
- Retiring Police Chief Dennis Murrin honored at Village Board meeting (December 17, 2020)
- Rick Slough named Lansing Interim Chief of Police (January 28, 2021)