Crystal Lake's new police chief comes from a long line of officers.
Jim Black's father, uncles and grandfather's brothers all chose careers in law enforcement. So when asked how he got started in the field, Black says he "doesn't know if I chose the career or the career chose me."
"It's pretty much all I've known," he said.
Black started on the department in January to succeed retiring longtime Chief Dave Linder. Black was most recently the deputy chief in Downers Grove, where he was on that department since 1988.
In his free time, he likes working out and spending time with family. He's a diehard Cubs fan.
"I'm a glutton for punishment," he said, laughing.
He recently sat down with Northwest Herald reporter Chelsea McDougall to chat about his goals for the job, and a much talked about issue – decriminalizing marijuana.
McDougall: What brought you to Crystal Lake?
Black: As I progressed through my career, I always wanted to try to become a police chief. ... I ended up getting the Crystal Lake recruitment brochure mailed to me. I looked at it, and it seemed like an interesting opportunity. The city itself and the makeup of the police department is very similar to where I came from in Downers Grove, so it seemed like it would be a good fit if things worked out, and here I am.
McDougall: What are your thoughts on the town so far?
Black: I think it's a great community, very diverse, a strong economy, it's very thriving. ... The community makeup itself is very similar to what I was accustomed to.
McDougall: Considering you had been there so long, was it difficult to leave Downers Grove?
Black: It was. You know, you work for somewhere for 25 years, and and those people become your family members – whether you get along with them or not. It's kind of hard, but I look at Crystal Lake now as my new family, and things have been going very well here. I'm really proud of the police department and the men and women who serve here.
McDougall: What changes do you want to bring to the department?
Black: One of the things I feel very fortunate on is that Chief Linder did a great job with the agency. I inherited a very good agency to begin with and one of the things that we need to make sure moving forward. ... I'm not looking to necessarily make huge, drastic changes right off the bat. Obviously, I'm still in my assessment phase of the agency.
McDougall: A hot-button issue out of Crystal Lake has been a proposal to decriminalize marijuana. What are your thoughts on that?
Black: I read about some of the things that were going on before I took this position. I wouldn't really categorize this as decriminalizing marijuana. There have been other cities that have instituted an ordinance-type violation. It's still a criminal arrest where the person is handcuffed and brought down to the station and processed. It's just adjudicated in a different manner than going to criminal court in McHenry County. ... We [wouldn't] decriminalize the possession of it by any means. However, I haven't given it too much thought. If the City Council directs me to look into it further, then I certainly will.
The Black lowdown