Veteran Patrol Officer Anderson Dedicated to Keeping Citizens Safe
By David A. F. Sweet Rick Anderson is the day-shift patrol commander for the Lake Forest Police Department. He has served as a detective, police sergeant and police commander since he was hired to patrol the streets in 1994. He is second in seniority among all sworn police personnel. Lake Forest Love recently caught up with him:
Why did you choose law enforcement as a career?
I always knew I wanted to help people and wanted a job that was not routine. When I was a freshman in college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, I took a class called Introduction to Criminal Justice and discovered my passion for police work.
"The biggest changes have come in the form of technology," says Rick Anderson when asked about the changes he's seen in policing since he started in 1994.
What are your duties in your current position?
As the day-shift patrol commander, my job is to supervise, lead, direct, plan and coordinate the activities of 6-8 patrol officers and one sergeant on the day shift. We also typically have a minimum of four patrol officers and one supervisor working on the day shift at one time. Why is your job important for city residents?
It's important because, like in many organizations, you need leadership, supervision, direction, and management to succeed, teach and train officers to be their best. Sometimes this also includes disciplinary measures to make corrections. A supervisor can perform these duties to garner trust and promote positive police community relationships with residents.
What were some of the accomplishments of the Investigations Unit when you led it for five years?
I was proud for the proactive approach we took to subjects selling illegal drugs to school-aged students in the community. We were able to make multiple arrests and hopefully make an impact in the community. During my time as the detective commander, I also assisted in establishing the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program. This program trained officers in the department on the issue of mental illness. It taught officers how to better relate, interact and be more empathetic to someone suffering from a mental-health crisis.
What was one of the more unusual tasks you’ve had? One of the most interesting and fun tasks I was given was when I was responsible for the overall safety and security for the 2017 BMW Golf Championship at the Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. What most people don’t know is that it took six months to plan, organize, and execute the safety-and-security plan for an event that only lasted one week. I also had to attend two prior BMW Golf Championships in Colorado and Indiana as a segment in the planning to learn from other police agencies.
In what ways has policing changed since you started?
It has changed very little in some respects and changed significantly in other aspects. When I started 28 years ago, we had police officers patrolling specific beats in squad cars as we still do today. We still communicate through police radios with a police dispatcher. The uniform we wear and equipment we carry on our person is also very similar as to what it was 28 years ago.
The biggest changes have come in the form of technology. When I started, cell phones were a luxury for most people and primarily used for making calls. Now, everyone has a smartphone and officers use them for several forms of communication and information. The advancement of in-car computers, surveillance videos, in-car cameras, body-worn cameras, license plate readers, tasers, electronic ticketing and accident reports, report writing software, and use of drones to name a few have all helped in police efficiency.
The police officers work schedules have significantly changed in Lake Forest from when I first started. We originally rotated between the three eight-hour shifts every 28 days. Over time we then rotated every year. Currently, officers pick their shift by seniority and can stay on a given shift for multiple years.
One thing that has remained constant throughout my career in Lake Forest is the overall positive support the city and residents have for the police department. I am truly grateful to have received this unwavering support from the community over the years.
Speaking of that, in what ways has this job been rewarding over the years?
One of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of being a police officer is the unique opportunity to help people get out of a bad situation, get back on their feet, and ultimately turn their lives around. I have had people years later reach out to say what I did or said made a positive impact on their lives.
In closing, would you like to share a safety message? “Crime occurs where the opportunity exists.” Lock your doors, lock your valuables, be aware of your surroundings, and use your home security system when away.