After Homewood Police Chief Larry Burnson announced his retirement to village officials on Nov. 5, it took only two weeks before Village Manager Jim Marino announced he had found a replacement: Deputy Chief Bill Alcott.
Burnson will officially retire on March 11, 2016, after having served as chief for 14 years. Burnson was on the Matteson police force for 27 years, including 10 years as chief, before coming to Homewood.
Village President Richard Hofeld lauded Burnson's tenure with the village.
"What an outstanding job he has done," Hofeld said.
Hofeld said he was especially proud of the professionalism Burnson brought to the department, of his ability to serve as a mentor to his staff and his leadership in developing a good relationship between the department and residents.
"We're intermeshed," Hofeld said. "He made the community and the police department one."
Marino pointed to a number of accomplishments during Burnson’s tenure as chief: he established the joint 911 dispatch center comprising six municipalities; reinstated the tactical unit; and strengthened the community’s relationship with the police department by establishing the police chief’s citizen advisory committee and holding Homewood’s annual National Night Out event. Burnson also served as staff liaison to the Veterans Committee.
“He led our police department to become one of the best trained, highest skilled and well respected departments in the area,” Marino wrote in an email to the H-F Chronicle.
“He adeptly mentored officers as they rose through the ranks and instilled in his police officers the importance of maintaining a high quality of life for our residents.”
Burnson said the community policing approach works because his staff embraces the approach, and he believes the result is a safer community.
"We're going on nine years in a row with Part 1 (serious) crimes going down," he said.
His reason for retiring? "It's time," he said.
"It's tough to say goodbye," he said. "I think the world of this community. I think it's the best run community in the South Suburbs."
On Nov. 20, Marino told the village board and administrative staff that he is promoting Alcott to the chief’s post effective March 12, 2016.
Alcott will take over a department with 43 employees, 28 of whom are patrol officers, with an annual budget of $6 million.
“Bill has been with the village for 17 years. During his tenure Bill served in multiple capacities including detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit, sergeant commander of Network Three Tactical Unit and team leader for the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force,” Marino wrote.
Hofeld offered strong support for Alcott's appointment.
"We're very fortunate to have a person with Bill's skills to step in," he said. "His leadership has been demonstrated in all aspects of the job, and he has a deep concern for the community."
He said the fact that Alcott worked with Burnson for so long will help ease the leadership transition.
"I'm excited about being the police chief for such a great community," he said. "I've learned a lot from Chief Burnson about how to take care of our community. It's all about the quality of life for our people."
Alcott has a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement management and a master’s degree in public safety administration.
Eric Crump contributed to this story