A Peek at the Past
Picture of Charlie Duwell, First Chief of Park Ridge
Mr. Charlie Duwell, the first chief of police for Park Ridge, was born in Germany in 1857 and came to the United States when he was 10 years old. Six years later, he moved to Illinois and in 1892, began his career of service with the Park Ridge Police Department. One of Charlie Duwell's first duties as a police officer was to light 123 kerosene street lamps before going on duty each night and then his share of the village to cover after that. The salary at that time was $45 a month. Nine years later, he was appointed Chief of Police. According to the Park Ridge Weekly, Chief Duwell was "one of the best revolver shots in town, never had the slightest suspicion of reproach about his high standard of honesty, and had been a first class citizen in every way." Charlie Duwell was chief of police for 27 years and retired at the age of 71. In the early days, the police was a volunteer force, where a number of local citizens wore stars and were subject to call at any hour of the day or night.
|Sgt. Louis Gill was Park Ridge's second police officer. Born on February 20, 1898, Louis Gill joined the police department on October 31,1920 and served until his death on November 29, 1950. Louis Gill was Park Ridge's first motorcycle officer.
|Shown here is a picture of the first police department which was housed in the old Village Hall, and built in 1896.
The following are some points of interest regarding the start of some of the Park Ridge Police Department's early programs:
- The Officer Friendly program first got started by Peter J. Disher back in 1965. Mr. Disher was the coordinator and co-author of the Officer Friendly program which was aimed at strengthening the safety habits of preschoolers and elementary grade students.
- On May 18, 1972, George Teune & Ralph Polan were the first Community Relations Coordinators for the Park Ridge program which was a pilot program for the State of Illinois.
- On October 5, 1972, Park Ridge police got their first breathalyzer.
- On December 7th of the same year the "Operation Identification Program" was started.
- The "First Contact" program began on September 5, 1974 and was implemented to prevent further police contact or arrest.
- The Joint Police Communication System was set up on September 25, 1975.
- On October 2, 1975 application for an FCC license occurred.
On March 27, 1993, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies conferred full Accreditation status to the Park Ridge Police Department. At that time, the Park Ridge Police department was only the 21st agency in Illinois and the 255th in the nation to attain Accredited status through the Commission. The Commission conducted an extensive and comprehensive review of the Police Department's rules, policies and practices. The standards are designed to increase (1) law enforcement agency capabilities to prevent and control crime; (2) agency effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services; (3) cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies; and (4) citizen and employee confidence in the objectives and practices of the agency.
The attainment of Accredited status culminated a two and one-half year effort by over 30 members of the police department. The reasons for an agency to become accredited include reduced liability insurance premiums, development of a highly defensible set of policy and procedure directives, and recognition for having achieved internal excellence. The department has maintained their accredited status ever since.