Dimmick ready to face the challenges of a small-town department
BY MICHAEL MILLER
SAVANNA — Newly appointed Savanna Chief of Police Kevin Dimmick is very familiar with the city’s he’s tasked with protecting; he’s been working there as a police officer for 28 years.
A resident of Mount Carroll, Dimmick replaces former chief Michael Moon, who served the city for years prior to taking a pension and accepting a position as a police officer in Morrison.
Dimmick has an Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement from Clinton Community College. He began as a law enforcement officer for the Village of Thomson in 1987; then a full time officer in Savanna in 1991, and has been working part-time for Thomson for the past four years. He also occasionally works on the Milledgeville police force.
Dimmick says he never thought he’d be a chief of police but says he sought out the position when it became available, “to move the department forward and to continue working with the guys that work here, leading them . . . I’ve enjoyed being a lieutenant and being in that supervisory role and wanted to continue that as chief.”
He plunged right into the interviewing process as chief, since the department was already short one officer when Moon submitted his resignation (that position is now filled, with new hire Dustin Lawson starting on July 17) and now that he’s become chief, there is still another slot open on the force.
As a former lieutenant, the chief has had much experience training new officers already. The department is set up for a chief and six officers, Dimmick said.
Dimmick said he’d like to see another officer certified as a bike patrol officer so that the department could make use of both of its bikes, patrolling the downtown areas, particularly during busy times. Only Lt. Dan Nevills is certified for BPO.
He’d also like to see more public policing, with foot patrols in residential areas, which he said would help the current ordinance officer, as well as to meet with citizens.
“I’d like to see a little bit more of that personal touch in the patrols, but said manpower limitations make this difficult now.
Dimmick has served as the West Carroll Resource Officer for 15 years and would like to train another officer for this position.
One of the biggest challenges for the chief of police in Savanna is staffing the department.
“It has been a challenge. It seems like every year, we’re training new officers . . . we’ll get a new officer here for a year or two and then they’ll move on somewhere else,” as he acknowledged the fairly limited career advancement opportunities for a small town like Savanna.
“As far as actually moving up, there’s not a lot of positions you can move in to.”
Offsetting this limitation is the officers’ ability to do many aspects of the job, which Dimmick says they seem to enjoy.
“You’re not assigned just to do traffic, or just to a bike patrol. You’re covering all aspects, you’re dealing with the public, you’re dealing with the traffic, you’re dealing with deaths . . . we cover it all.”
Another challenge is one that the rest of the nation is facing, the chief says, and that is drugs.
“Savanna is not immune to the drug problem; it’s there.”
Another problem is a result of the state financial situation.
“Our activity has picked up quite a bit in dealing with people with mental health issues. They’re not able to find help or get the treatment they need, so they are out here on the streets and we are dealing with them.”
Dimmick says he wants the public to know his department is ready to listen and help.
“If you’ve got any issues, don’t be afraid to call.”
He says the department often gets comments from people with complaints about neighbors or noise or other issues the day after the incidents happened, because they “don’t want to bother” the police.
“Well, call and bother us,” he said. “We don’t see all of this stuff . . . they are our eyes and ears out there when we’re not in the neighborhoods, so let us know what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to call.”