Filling a position that has been vacant for three years, James Greenwood was appointed deputy chief of the River Forest Police Department on Feb. 1.

He took the oath office at the Feb. 13 village board meeting before a crowd of family members and fellow officers, including a contingent from the Bellwood Police Department.

Greenwood has been with the department for over 25 years, joining the force in 1997 as a patrol officer. He worked his way up the ranks, serving as detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and patrol commander. He held the last position from October 2018 until his recent promotion.

Police Chief James O’Shea explained that the last deputy chief was Dan Dhooghe, who held the position until he retired three years ago.

“We needed to fill frontline street positions prior to promoting new deputy chief,” he said. “We have been fully staffed for several months now and it was time to fill the position again.”

Greenwood grew up in Franklin Park and graduated from East Leyden High School. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying political science and landscape architecture before changing directions and attending Triton College in River Grove where he earned his associate’s degree in criminal justice administration.

He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management degree from Benedictine University in Lisle and attended the School of Police Staff and Command at Northwestern University in Evanston.

While at Northwestern, Greenwood received the Kreml Award, which is voted on by the class of police supervisors from around the state and awarded to one person per class for demonstrating high ethical and professional values and dedication to public service.

Another memorable and “positive” moment came a few years back when Greenwood found a little boy whose mother had called police to say he was missing.

“The boy had been playing outside with the other neighborhood kids and his family,” he recalled. “I arrived on scene along with other officers and we began searching. Other officers began searching inside the home and I decided to talk to the other little kids that he had been playing with. They explained that they were playing hide and seek in the back yard and the little boy was gone.

“I noticed the overhead door to the neighbor’s garage was open and the yards to both homes were connected. I searched in the garage and found the little guy deep in the throes of a serious game of hide and seek. I explained to him that his mom was looking for him and walked him next door to his home.

“The feeling of happiness and relief from the mother was more than heartwarming. The sense of commitment to a game of hide and seek was almost as hilarious.”

Greenwood said the seed for law enforcement as a career was planted by the father of a childhood friend who was a police officer. The seed remained dormant until went to college and started working as a student employee for the University of Illinois Police Department.

“I was assigned to check campus buildings and provide transportation for students at night,” he recalled. “We worked for the officers, and I admired the work that they did and realized over time that this was my passion.”

Greenwood said he never considered working for any other type of police department other than local municipal police.

“I was interested in the daily interactions with the community and helping people at the local level,” he explained.

Greenwood said he believes the biggest public safety concern for River Forest surrounds the area of traffic violations and the police department’s enforcement of the infractions.

“The community wants to ensure that the streets are safe to drive on and that their children can play outside without the worry of a car speeding by or worse,” he said. “The department is here to provide the safety and security for the community so that they can enjoy going out for a bike ride, walk or head to the park to play.

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