BLOOMINGTON — The city will continue emphasizing community-oriented policing even after Chief Randy McKinley leaves Bloomington in January for a chief’s job in St. Charles, Mo.
City Manager David Hales called the 29-year department veteran’s police philosophies “progressive” and said the city will maintain them in McKinley’s absence.
The St. Charles City Council confirmed McKinley as the city’s police chief during a closed-session council meeting late Tuesday night. He was chosen over the other remaining finalist, St. Charles’ interim Police Chief Lawrence Stulce, on loan from St. Louis County’s police department. The St. Charles Journal reported the vote was 6-3.
St. Charles Director of Administration Michael Spurgeon said McKinley “was very effective in communicating his vision and his philosophical beliefs,” including his focus on community-oriented policing and crime prevention. “We are looking forward to getting started next month,” Spurgeon said.
McKinley will begin work in St. Charles on Jan. 21, after working his last day at the Bloomington Police Department on Jan. 18.
Hales said it’s too early to say whether he’ll appoint an interim chief from within the department, but he will seek input from McKinley. He said he hopes to announce interim and permanent chief search procedures by early next year.
The department’s remaining leaders include assistant police chiefs Clay Wheeler, who was appointed to the position in 2011, and Bob Wall, appointed in 2008. Wall pleaded guilty last month to improper lane usage related to a traffic accident. Charges of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report property damage were dismissed as part of the plea.
Asked if Wall’s recent court case would be considered in finding a replacement for McKinley, Hales said “it’s premature to respond.”
“I am extremely proud of this department. Everything that’s going on here will go on when I leave,” McKinley said.
McKinley, 54, became a Bloomington patrol officer in 1984 and moved up the ranks until he was named interim chief in December 2008 and chief in March 2009.
Over the last four years, McKinley has overseen development of the department’s first strategic plan, which called for more emphasis on “problem-oriented policing” — neighborhood-focused efforts that rely on cooperation among city departments and strong relationships with residents.
“I think it’s had a huge impact … because we all actually know what’s going on and we all actually get a chance to contribute and see that our contribution is paying off,” said Valerie Dumser, a resident of the Olde Town neighborhood and west-side community leader.
The move to more problem-oriented policing, however, did lead to a major decrease in traffic enforcement after McKinley dismantled that division in 2010. The department earlier this year has bumped up that patrol, however.
“It’s a balancing game,” McKinley said.
While Dumser and Hales both credited McKinley for improved communication with the public, earlier this year the department learned it hadn’t fully closed 25 percent of residents’ complaint cases since 2009. McKinley at that time said the lapse was due to decreased support staffing that the department subsequently adjusted to.
Attempts to trim the department’s budget also led to continued use of aging equipment. For example, McKinley last spring blamed problems with computers in cars for the department filing racial profiling information for only 58 percent of traffic stops.
In St. Charles, McKinley will be working with a bigger budget and a few more employees than in Bloomington, but he’ll be taking a pay cut.
In Bloomington, McKinley receives a salary of $135,527 and works with a budget of about $15.4 million. In St. Charles, McKinley will receive a salary of about $126,000 and work with a budget of about $18 million.
Asked about the lower salary, McKinley said he and his wife like St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb, and are excited for a change.
“I gave Bloomington 29 years here. I’m ready to try something different,” McKinley said. “It’s been a great ride.”
Following is a comparison of the Bloomington and St. Charles, Mo., communities and police departments:
Bloomington St. Charles
Budget: $15.4 million $18 million
Employees: 143 150
Population*: 77,071 66,598
*As of July 2011
SOURCES: City police departments, U.S. Census Bureau
Family: wife, Rene; two grown children, a 1-year-old grandchild
Jobs: Joined Bloomington Police Department as patrol officer, May 1984; detective, 1988; crime scene technician; sergeant, 1994; lieutenant and Office of Professional Standards, 2003; assistant chief, 2007; interim chief, December 2008; named chief in March 2009.
Education: University of Illinois Police Training Institute, 1984; Northwestern University, School of Police Staff and Command, 1998; FBI National Academy, 2005; University of St. Francis in Joliet, bachelor’s in business management, 2010.
Julie Gerke contributed to this report.