By Dan Campana
In his 23rd year with the Mundelein Police Department, Chief Eric Guenther has had a career filled with initiatives and accomplishments which have benefitted the community and the law enforcement profession.
But, after being named the 2018 Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Chief of the Year, he recalled an encounter with an officer at the department resonated deeply.
“One of the officers congratulated me on this recognition and told me how happy she was that I was her chief,” Guenther said. “That right there was worth a thousand awards.”
Guenther acknowledged he was surprised by the announcement because he didn’t see “any of my accomplishments as being noteworthy.” ILACP officials disagreed in the best way possible by listing off several notable achievements under Guenther’s leadership.
In particular, ILACP highlighted Guenther’s role in, among other things, the creation of the Lake County Opioid Initiative; his implementation of a Latino Police Academy to build relations with Mundelein’s Latino community; and establishing an employee wellness screening program for all sworn Mundelein officers.
“The Village of Mundelein should be very proud of its chief because he excels in so many ways,” ILACP President and Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger said. “Chief Guenther cares a great deal about the community he serves, the officers in his department and the role of law enforcement in society.”
For Guenther, his love for law enforcement started as a young boy thanks to a grandfather who served as an Illinois State Police lieutenant. He calls himself “lucky” to have built a career in Mundelein where he’s had no shortage of opportunities “to take risks and find solutions to problems that existed in our community.”
“It is incredible how highly regarded Chief Guenther is among his peers in Lake County, and for good reason,” ILACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said.
But, Guenther – who has been chief since 2013 – modestly shares the credit.
“I am most proud of the men and women that work at this agency and the passion I see them put into their daily tasks,” he offered. “Not one thing I have been credited with accomplishing belonged only to me. So many people have been part of these great accomplishments, none of which would have come to fruition without the confidence, effort and passion of those around me.”
Guenther will formally be honored by the ILACP on April 27 in Peoria during the association’s annual awards banquet.