Building a speed trap? No, Hainesville chief says
New top cop would rather emphasize community policing
By Corrinne Hess | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 1/24/2008 12:08 AM

During the interview process, Ronald Roth made one thing clear: if Hainesville wanted to revive its reputation as Lake County's speed trap, he was the not the man to lead the new police department.

Luckily for Roth -- and drivers with lead feet -- the village had no interest in that, either.

Roth, 52, of Antioch, was sworn in Tuesday as the village's first full-time chief of police.

"Years ago, when Hainesville had a reputation of being the speed trap of Lake County, it gave the community a very, very negative image," he said Wednesday. "This is a very nice, upper-middle-class community, and these people deserve a police department they can be proud of."

Mayor Ted Mueller said the village ultimately hired Roth because of his commitment to community policing.

"We had two excellent candidates, and it was not easy to choose from," Mueller said. "But I liked that he wanted to be hands-on and that he didn't want to ticket everyone who drove a couple miles per hour over the speed limit."

Roth has spent the past 30 years as a law enforcement officer in Lake County, the last 28 of which with the Antioch Police Department.

Roth retired from Antioch in July as its deputy chief.

He said at the time that he knew another opportunity would arise, and the Hainesville job was appealing because it is going to be a challenge.

"The only position I've never held is chief," he said. "Forming this police department is kind of like building a house. You need a solid foundation and then work your way up to the roof."

For his foundation, Roth anticipates hiring four experienced full-time officers and six to eight part-time officers.

Roth is confident he can come in close to the village's preliminary police budget of $542,000, which is about $72,000 more than its current police budget.

The village had been on a tight deadline to get its department running by Feb. 10, when its contract with the Round Lake Park Police Department ends. But an offer from the Lake County sheriff's office has bought the village -- and Roth -- some more time.

The sheriff's office will provide coverage to Hainesville for three months, free of charge, while Roth sets up his department.

"I can't emphasize enough the tremendous help Sheriff Mark Curran and Undersheriff Chuck Fagan have been to the village," Roth said.

Roth will run the department out of village hall.

Hainesville will continue its contract with CenCom, a 911 dispatch center that serves several Lake County communities, which is where suspects will be questioned and held.

"This is going to be a much different department than what they had when it was part-time (prior to 1999)," Roth said. "This is not going to be fancy, and there certainly won't be a lot of fat. We are going to have a trim, efficient, professional department that will work."