Ken Boehm's father was the one to pin the chief of police badge on his son Thursday night.
"I knew when he was about eight years old that he would be a police man," the elder Boehm told a packed village board room. "He would get on his bike and chase after police cars with sirens on the bike."
The elder Boehm had wanted to be a cop but wasn't tall enough to meet the height the requirements in place at the time. His dream rubbed off on his son.
"He told me, 'Dad, one of these days I'm going to fulfill your dream," he said. "He's done that and much more."
Ken Boehm told the crowd of family and community members and police officers that he was overwhelmed by the number of people in the room.
"All of you are inspiration for me to do better and continue to pursue more accomplishments in my career and this department," Boehm said.
"(The department is) like a big family. We will continue to face challenges every day. I look forward to the challenges we have ahead of us. It's most important to remember why we got into law enforcement in the first place and the service we provide to the community every day."
Boehm was appointed Woodridge's new police chief Feb. 9 and was sworn into the position during Thursday's village board meeting. Boehm was appointed as interim chief following the retirement of former Chief Steve Herron on Nov. 11.
"It's such an honor," Boehm said. "It's a very proud moment from me, to accomplish a goal I set forth early in my career."
Boehm was selected following an in-depth search conducted by Voorhees & Associates in which 116 people applied for the position, according to a village press release.
Boehm has served with the for 24 years, first serving as a patrol officer in Feb. 1988. He was promoted to sergeant in June 1999 and then to deputy chief in June 2005.
While he had opportunities to go to other communities, Boehm stayed in Woodridge, he said, because he found a home here.
"It's a great department," Boehm said. "There's a comrarderie that exists here. It's very warming, like meeting old friends. They greeted me with open arms."
He has held a variety of specialized positions, including gang officer, detective, field training officer and SWAT officer. Boehm also served as assistant SWAT commander for the regional Felony Investigative Assistance Team.
As a sergeant, he supervised the patrol, tactical, detective and field training units. As deputy chief, Boehm oversaw both the Patrol Division and Support Services Division.
“We are thrilled to have selected Ken Boehm as our next Police Chief," said Kathleen Rush, village administrator, in the release.
"His vast policing experience, his community-minded approach, and his ability to lead the Department forward made him the overwhelming choice. He is tremendously respected within the department, the village, and the community. He is a true professional who will bring strong leadership skills and experience to the position.”
The following is a Q&A with Chief Boehm.
What is the police department doing well?
The department has a lot to offer the village. The fact that we're one of the most respected organizations in the county and set the standard in many ways for policing. We've been forced to adapt our policing, whether it be for gangs, drugs, traffic, community concerns. We're always meeting challenges.
What can the police department improve upon?
There's certainly always room for improvement. We constantly need to move to adopt to what society holds for us, policies and procedures for us to put in place. Training, equipment needs. Hiring standards need to continue to be high so that we can bring on qualified officers. We're always trying to improve community relations.
What are your short-term goals?
We are looking to promote another deputy chief. I hope for that to happen relatively quickly. That opens the doors for another sargeant and then office position.
What are your long-term goals?
Space needs in the building . I feel it is important to provide a modern and professional police facility. I'm hope in my tenure here to be able to accomplish it, to provide for long-term professionalism for the department and for the village.