Since 1987, when Lazaro (Laz) Perez began his law enforcement career as a police cadet in West Chicago, now the equivalent of a Community Service Officer, he has been committed to the safety of residents; and his desire to improve the quality of life through the enforcement of laws and partnerships has remained at the core of his strong service orientation. At the May 2, 2011 City Council meeting, Perez was sworn-in as West Chicago’s new Chief of Police.
Perez, who graduated from Cook County Police Academy in 1989, was the first D.A.R.E instructor for the community, teaching children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. Working with youth through the afterschool programs, open gym and community service projects will remain a priority of the department under his leadership, as well as conducting classes on gang awareness for parents.
Perez has moved through the ranks, and credits his success to his ability to deal effectively with people. Early on, while walking the beat as a patrol officer in the 1990s, he learned the importance of speaking to people and building relationships in which others could feel comfortable, the foundation for community policing.
Later working investigations, Perez became a forming member of the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force, which investigates homicides throughout DuPage County. He achieved the rank of Assistant Task Force Commander when he left at the end of last year to take on the role of Interim Chief of Police for West Chicago. He is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and has received numerous meritorious awards throughout his career.
Chief Perez is quick to acknowledge the many positive changes in the community which have resulted from the department’s culture over the past 15 years. “Back then, gang activity and drug-related crime were our challenges. Today, due to successful community policing which involves partnering with all segments of the community, we can concentrate on quality of life issues, like traffic enforcement of the 400,000 cars that pass through West Chicago every day, making life easier and safer for law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Looking ahead to the prospects of successfully leading a team of 48 sworn officers and 10 civilians, Chief Perez recognizes the need for forward-thinking leadership that is proactive in keeping up with trends and case law changes and one that prioritizes professional development through multi-year training protocols. “My role is more administrative now. We are currently developing our 3 – 5 year plan and for the first time ever have included patrol officers, as well as supervisory staff in the process."
West Chicago’s Mayor Mike Kwasman has no doubt of Perez’ ability to excel in his new position. “Laz has what it takes to be a proven leader, not only among the men and women of our police department, but also as an ambassador of our great city. The reduction of our crime rate of 27 percent shows his initiative to make West Chicago a better place for all. I am so proud to appoint Lazaro Perez as Police Chief. He is the epitome of a police chief and an ambassador of the City.”
City of West Chicago
- 475 Main Street
West Chicago, Illinois 60185
- (630) 293-2200
The author does not allow comments to this entry