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Lake Forest hires first ‘lateral’ officers

Lake Forest Mayor Donald Schoenheider swears police officers Rico Stringer from left Dan Markus Dominick Bellino City Council meeting Monday

Lake Forest Mayor Donald Schoenheider swears in police officers Rico Stringer, from left, Dan Markus and Dominick Bellino at the City Council meeting Monday, Aug. 5. | Linda Blaser ~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 10, 2013 6:25AM

The Lake Forest Police Department added three new officers to its ranks, the first hires under the city’s lateral-hiring program authorized by the Police and Fire Commission in 2012.

Lake Forest Mayor Donald Schoenheider swore in Rico Stringer, formerly of the North Chicago Police Department, Dan Markus, of the Chicago Police Department, and Dominick Bellino, of the Richmond Police Department, at the City Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 5.

The additional three officers brings the departments total, including supervisors, to 39. A current officer will retire effective Monday, Aug. 12, which brings the total police force down to 38. The city’s authorized strength is 40.

“We hope to hire two new officers and have them in the academy in late September,” Lake Forest Police Deputy Chief Karl Walldorf said.

Home-rule communities like Lake Forest are allowed to use a lateral hiring process, with Police and Fire Commission approval, Walldorf said.

The alternate process “provides a quicker process for experienced police officers,” he said.

Rather than having to follow the usual course of taking a written Civil Service exam with hundreds of applicants, a lateral candidate sits through additional — and longer — interviews with police management staff and police and fire commissioners.

“The huge advantage is it allows us to hire very qualified people who do not have to go to a police academy,” Walldorf said.

With a shortened field-training period, the officers are on duty and in the community sooner.

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