By Dan Campana
Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda figures his final two months at the department’s helm will be emotional at times now that his upcoming move to Colorado became official late last week.
“It’s bittersweet,” Swoboda said during his “Friday with the Fuzz” segment on WRMN radio.
On Thursday, officials in Fort Collins, Colorado, formally announced Swoboda as its new police chief beginning June 4. City Manager Darin Atteberry said Swoboda emerged as the “top candidate” and clear choice to lead its police department.
“In approximately 20 meetings with his Elgin Police Department colleagues, representatives from city hall, the mayor, city manager, the media, community organizations and neighborhood groups, I learned about his commitment to service, his passion for excellence and his ability to hold all to a high level of accountability,” Atteberry said.
Swoboda joined the Elgin police in 1992 “as a 22-year-old kid” and has served as chief for the last eight years. During his weekly radio appearance, Swoboda reflected on “a great vibe” within the department, which has translated into a solid relationship with residents.
“The one thing I get a lot of energy from and I truly enjoy are the people I work with,” Swoboda said “We’ve got amazing police officers and civilians who work at the police department who get up every day and go to work to try to do the people’s business and make Elgin a better place.
“I truly love the team we have there and also just the connection we as a police department have with our community,” he added.
In particular, Swoboda expressed his pride in the department’s handling of the aftermath of a fatal March officer-involved shooting – not only in its transparent approach to releasing video footage of the incident, but also for being open to public dialogue with those who questioned the actions of the officers involved. In response to those with concerns about the case, Swoboda and Elgin officers met and spoke with community members in front of the department a few days after the shooting.
“It’s great to be police chief when things are going smooth … but then something happens where people have some tough questions, and maybe you don’t have all the answers … that’s when you’re tested,” Swoboda said.
Elgin police acknowledged the news of Swoboda’s new job with a heartfelt Facebook post which said Fort Collins’ “gain will be our loss; he will definitely be missed by the community – and by members of our department.” In its own Facebook post, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office congratulated Swoboda and expressed appreciation for his leadership throughout the years.
Although it will be hard to say goodbye, Swoboda didn’t hedge on how much he’s looking forward to the next chapter.
“I’m super excited. I wouldn’t have put in (for it) if it wasn’t something I wanted to do,” he explained.
Even with his upcoming departure, Swoboda told the radio audience that he’s still going to be busy with community events and saying thank you to as many people in Elgin as possible. And, Swoboda made it clear the police department won’t veer from its mission just because he’s leaving.
“What’s great about the Elgin Police Department and the team we created here down to the newest officer … it’s not going to miss a beat. They’re in good hands even after June 4,” Swoboda said.