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A Fond Farewell to our Park Police Chief

Park Police Chief Carl Schnibben is retiring on April 24, 2020, after serving more than 12 years in this position. He assumed leadership during the Great Recession in 2008 and is leaving the Park Police stronger and better prepared than ever to serve the community through the current coronavirus crisis and beyond. We are grateful for his leadership and wish him the best. 
  
Park Police Chief Carl Schnibben

Park Police Lt. Mike Harrington recalls meeting Carl in Woodridge, where Carl had served as Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division and the Patrol Division. In 2006, after Carl retired from the Woodridge Police Department, Mike suggested that he come to the Naperville Park District. On April 1, 2006 Carl arrived at the District as a Park Police officer and within two years was called on to assume the role of Acting Chief of Park Police and then Chief of Park Police.

Lt. Harrington, who has worked part time with the Naperville Park District Police for 29 years, reflected on Chief Schnibben’s leadership and summarized it this way:  “He was exactly what we needed, the quarterback for the team, making sure everyone had what they needed. Always, and in every way, he looked out for his staff. He saw the big picture and set us up for the future, attracting and retaining officers who would serve well.  He recognized the value of training individuals in the community who had no policing experience, but the desire to serve and the temperament and demeanor needed for communicating well with the public. Several of our officers who were hired in this way continue to be a great fit for the Park Police and now are helping to train others.”


(L to R) Commissioner Mike Reilly and Lt. Mike Harrington, 2017

Chief Schnibben’s initiatives also extended beyond his staff to the community. For example, over the years the Park Police have become well equipped and trained to assist other first responders in the area, participating in the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS).  He introduced a “Share the Trail” initiative in 2015 and a bicycle safety program with the City of Naperville Police Department in 2016. Additionally, he has shared his knowledge of preparedness, public safety, free speech, and peaceful protests with the park and recreation industry, speaking at both state and national conferences. 


(L to R) Chief Carl Scnibben, Director of Parks Kevin Finnegan and Director of Human Resources Katie Sepe. These three staff members presented a session on emergency preparedness at the Congress of the National Recreation and Park Association in September 2015. 


Park Police and City of Naperville Police handing out “tickets” for ice cream cones during the 2016 bicycle safety campaign in 2016.

One of Carl’s passions is to help those in need, and he led the Park Police in a multi-year effort to raise thousands of dollars for Special Olympics Illinois through events like the Torch Run, Cop on a Rooftop and Texas Roadhouse luncheons. Each December, he coordinated a toy collection at Park District facilities to provide truckloads of new toys for children through the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. 
 
Chief Schnibben and Officer Patrick Ryan displaying toys collected for Toys for Tots, December 2013

Executive Director Ray McGury came to the District about six months after Carl Schnibben began serving as Park Police Chief and has had a front row seat, as he might say, observing Carl’s leadership of the Park Police as they help ensure public safety, one of the District’s core values. 
 
In Ray’s words:   
“The success or failure of any company can be tied back to the person running the organization. Experts from all walks of life talk a lot about leadership.  Indeed, there are thousands of books on this topic and just as many keys or methods offered for ‘how to effectively lead.’   To me, I judge leadership not by what a person says or writes, but by what he or she does.  Actions speak louder than any words for me and by that standard, Park District Police Chief Carl Schnibben is a great leader. He leads by example and not by his title.
 
Chief Schnibben is a ‘cop's cop’ who isn't above working the dozens of events we have each year with his fellow police officers, and who isn’t above standing post with his team at the increased number of public demonstrations for which we provide safety and security. He never bows out because he's the Chief of Police; rather, he jumps in because he's the Chief of Police.  He has a velvet touch with both the public and with his Force, but there is no mistaking the strength of his hand. Time and again he has found creative ways to preserve the peace so that our community could continue to flourish together. 

Carl’s actions and efforts in our community also demonstrate that he is a great man. His work coordinating the Park District's participation in Illinois Special Olympics, like his work with the United States Marine Corp's Toys For Tots Christmas gift campaign, says far more about Carl's love and compassion for those in need than any words could ever accomplish. Carl has accumulated numerous awards and recognitions over his years in law enforcement—for which he should, and will be, remembered—but I will remember Carl for his love of being a police officer and his love of the community he served.  As the TV commercial says...’Priceless.’”  

Annual Texas Roadhouse fundraiser for Special Olympics, 2019


(R to L) Chief Schnibben, Scholarship winner Katharine Marshall, Detective Jamie Goschey, and Officer David White, July 2019


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