Norridge’s Police Chief Goss focuses on reducing retail theft, increasing technology – Chicago Tribune
Even as far back as high school, Norridge Police Chief Brian Goss sensed public service would be his career path, emulating his father, a firefighter for 30 years.
“I wanted to do something good with my life that meant something,” said Goss, 49, who joined the department last October.
Earlier in his career, he became a police officer in Addison, where he rose through that department’s ranks over a quarter century, eventually becoming deputy chief before coming to Norridge.
“I was at the time of my career where I wanted to take the next step and I wanted to become a chief and this was a very good progression for me,” Goss said.
“Chief Goss is highly experienced, he’s providing us with the progressive leadership we were looking for, he is professional and focused, he is a problem solver and has introduced new ideas and has brought new perspective that was much needed. He has increased employee morale,” Village Administrator Joanna Skupien wrote in an e-mail. “The chief is very personable, makes time for everyone whether it’s employees, residents, elected officials or concerned citizens.”
After nine months in Norridge, Goss said he has developed positive impressions of the village, which has an approximate population of 15,000, according to the United States Census.
“It’s a very tight-knit community,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody and everybody takes an interest in the community and we have a lot of public support for our police department, which is very nice to see.”
With an approximate department budget of $7 million, Goss oversees a department of 35 sworn officers, a number he would like to increase to 38. He acknowledges recruitment has become tougher for some departments.
“People are a little bit more afraid to get into this career because they are afraid that one mistake will make them be an offender and be charged rather than (be) the good guy,” he said.
Goss said in an effort to bolster its ranks, the department has started taking applications for a lateral hiring program. This allows already-certified police officers of one community to transfer to Norridge. Goss said veteran officers may see a pay increase depending on the department they are coming from.
Goss speaks of a series of goals for the department, specifically in terms of reducing retail theft.
“Retail theft is a huge problem and it’s not just a problem in Norridge, it’s a problem throughout Cook County,” he said.
With the Harlem-Irving Plaza shopping mall an area of focus, Goss noted department personnel would soon embark on a program utilizing license plate reader cameras in the retail areas with a goal of easing retail theft and carjackings.
“We really want to embrace technology and increase the technology footprint we use in Norridge,” Goss said.
Moreover, Goss said other plans to stem crime include increasing patrols and working with mall security and the individual stores, but he said there is only so much the department can do.
“The problem is we can catch, arrest and send them to court but if they are not being held accountable in court, then that is not a deterrent for them,” Goss said.
He said he is not “frustrated” with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, as he is still learning that office’s system and the rules.
“I came from DuPage County, which was very tough on crime,” Goss added. “I know the officers in Norridge get frustrated at times with the lack of felony approval when they have felonies that can be charged and they are not getting the approvals they want.”
Goss said when he started his job he told the officers that the department would do their job and what the other players in law enforcement did is up to them.
“We can only do our job 100%,” Goss said.
When asked if the department participates in some national police reform programs that call for reimagining use of force policies — including the Campaign Zero’s Eight Can’t Wait program, the Obama Foundation pledge or the NAACP’s Ten Shared Principles — Goss said it did not.
The department’s policy is written to state standards and it follows state statutes and best practices, he said.
As for de-escalation training, Goss said that is a long-established part of the job.
“We talk people into complying with us. It’s something we’ve been doing for years,” Goss said. “It just has a new name on it now.”
Goss explained the procedures if officers encountered a person or multiple people deemed out of control.
“We try to talk people down and talk them into compliance and we just take extra time and try not to make a situation into a use-of-force situation that does not need to be,” he said. “We will just take the needed time to handle the call the right way.”
Goss said individual squad cars have cameras and the department will explore getting officers body-worn cameras. The state is mandating that equipment by January 2025.
“We are going to shoot for earlier than that, but there is a process we have to go through,” he said.
When asked whether the department’s general orders are online, Goss said they are not because they are being revised and updated. Once that is completed, he said, they will be sent to officers on an individual basis not to overwhelm them.
He said he’s not certain if the orders will eventually go online due to technical limitations of the village’s website, but individuals who are interested in reading them may file a Freedom of Information Act request.
When asked if the village has a police social worker to help in situations such as a domestic dispute, Goss said there is not, but referrals are available through the Cook County Health Department.
In terms of how long he wants to stay in Norridge, Goss said he has goals that he wants to achieve within five years and then he will re-evaluate.
Yet, he quickly notes, “I have a lot of law enforcement left within me.”
Goss stressed that police department officers and employees are a top priority.
“I hope the officers are happy with the working conditions, because it is a tough job to be a police officer and you should not have to worry about stress from the inside the department because there is too much stress outside the department that officers have to deal with.
“So I just want to make it a very good working environment for the officer and a safe community for residents and the people who visit here.”