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Guenther appointed new Mundelein police chief

Current Police Chief Ray Rose congratulates newly appointed chief Eric Guenther after 5-1 vote Jan. 14 ratified appointment. | Rick

Current Police Chief Ray Rose congratulates newly appointed chief Eric Guenther after a 5-1 vote on Jan. 14 ratified the appointment. | Rick Kambic~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 19, 2013 3:03AM

The new chief of police is one of Mundelein’s own, in a sense.

Of the 33 applications Mundelein officials reviewed, Deputy Chief Eric Guenther surfaced as the best candidate and the Mundelein Village Board concurred by approving his appointment 5-1.

Guenther joined the Mundelein Police Department in 1995, became a sergeant in 2001, was promoted to commander in 2003 and later named deputy chief in 2009.

While still a commander, Guenther was instrumental in helping retiring Chief Ray Rose create a pilot program that enhances law enforcement’s response to victims.

“We were more focused on getting the bad guy than helping the victims of those crimes,” Guenther said. “We wanted to serve those victims’ needs and keep them informed.”

Officers started carrying handouts to give victims upon first contact. The pamphlets include contact information for every possible resource available to local residents.

The program also improved follow up procedures, allowing victims opportunities to ask for more help while also giving officers a chance to learn of any new developments.

“Even if no progress is made, it’s good to let victims know we’re still trying and that we care,” Guenther said.

The program is still active, and has been studied by a number of police agencies, including the International Association for Police Chiefs.

Technology and efficiency will be big topics for Guenther moving forward. He plans to make the department more efficient, as is, and then review what new technology can make operations even more efficient.

Rose, who has been chief for more than 20 years, gave his blessing to Guenther.

“I think the mayor and Village Board have made the right decision,” Rose said. “Eric knows the importance of partnering with the community and participating in groups and activities such as the Lake County and Mundelein After School Coalitions, StandUp, Lake County Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force, and community events.”

Rose praised Guenther for being able to intuitively know when a small issue can turn into a larger problem, and then making appropriate adjustments.

“He’s also been able to continue his education in tandem with gaining on-the-job experience: A bachelor’s degree, Northwestern University Staff and Command, FBI Academy, and Senior Management Institute at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government,” Rose said. “This makes him well-rounded and the perfect choice to continue leading the department and partnering with the community.”

Rose said Guenther’s best qualities include the ability to lead by example, be open-minded and be personable — several of those Guenther credits Rose for instilling.

“I’ve certainly gained a lot of experience through Chief Rose,” Guenther said. “He has over 45 years of experience and my four years as deputy chief under him really count for eight years anywhere else.”

There was one opposition to Guenther’s appointment. Trustee Terri Voss expressed a desire to have all department heads live in Mundelein, but conceded no such rule exists.

When his grandfather died, Guenther was given an empty plot of land in downtown Grayslake. Guenther built a house on that land and currently resides there with his wife and their three children.

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