The Modern Professional Era
Today the Palatine Police Department is directed by Chief Alan Stoeckel. There are two Deputy Chiefs, seven Commanders, ten Sergeants, eighty-eight officers, and thirty-seven civilians. In addition to the regular duties of policing Palatine and following up on the crimes occurring, the department has officers assigned to the high schools and junior high schools, crime prevention officers and two full-time social workers. The Palatine officer today is better educated and constantly undergoing training. The department today requires a four-year college degree before applying and has ten officers with master’s degrees.
The Palatine Police Department today is made up of four separate Sections: Patrol, Investigations, Planning and Research, and Technical Services. The Patrol Section responds to calls for service from the public; providing preventive patrol, criminal enforcement, traffic enforcement, preliminary investigations, incident reporting, accident investigation, parking enforcement and a range of services to the community. The Investigations Section follows up on crimes that have occurred, develops intelligence, maintains a liaison with the High Schools and Junior High Schools, and also conducts investigations required for liquor licensing. The Youth Unit, handling juvenile victims and offenders are also part of the Investigations Section. Gang and Tactical Operations are also part of the Investigations Section; developing intelligence and interdicting gang operations. Planning and Research is responsible for special studies, project management and implementation, grant management, maintaining policies, coordinating the internship program, compiling monthly activity reports, and serving as the Department’s Media Liaison. Technical Services is responsible for the supporting functions of Records maintenance, Property and Evidence control, and Communications.
The tools of today’s law enforcement professional have changed drastically from the gas lighting equipment of the early constables. Today’s police squad car is equipped with two-way radios, emergency lights and sirens, and computer terminals. Police records today are stored on computers and the department is linked with almost all police departments in the Chicago area for rapid exchange of information.
Under the leadership of retired Chief Jerry Bratcher, many new and innovative programs of which the department is justifiably proud were instituted. On September 2, 1974, Palatine established the first crime prevention unit in the State of Illinois. The neighborhood watch portion of this program was the first funded by the state in 1975.
The Police Assistant program (paraprofessionals) was started in 1977 and was the first such program of its kind in the Midwest. Now a commonplace practice, these civilians help relieve police officers of routine duties such as minor accidents, thefts and traffic direction.
In 1989 the department underwent the most important change since its inception in 1866. Neighborhood Based Policing, community policing, is the department’s philosophy for the delivery of police service to the residents and businesses of Palatine. The same officers are assigned to specific police beats on a permanent basis. The patrol officers are able to develop relationships with the citizens they serve and work on problem identification and solution with the residents and businesses in their beats to improve the quality of life in Palatine. Neighborhood Based Policing has been a resounding success.
Although today’s Palatine patrolmen ride their beats, instead of walking them as Isaac R. Hale and William H. Dodd did, like these law enforcement pioneers, they are patrolling familiar ground. They know an area’s merchants, residents and children, and they take part in various local activities.