State's Top Cop May Go Back to School

Former army captain has impressive background, but no law enforcement

The state's new police chief may need some training. 

A 29-year-old former U.S. Army captain, Jonathan Moken, was named Monday as the new director of the Illinois State Police.

While anxious to serve in that role, concerns about his lack of experience have been overshadowing the appointment.

On Tuesday, the Sun-Times' Michael Sneed reported that Monken, "who now has more than 3,600 people under his command," may attend State Police cadet training.

"That's certainly something I'd be interested in," Sneed quoted Monken as saying.

He said he wouldn't wear the uniform "until I earn the uniform." 

Quinn Names West Point Grad as State Police Chief

A West Point graduate and former mortgage banker, Monken has called himself a good listener and a quick study. Let's hope that's true, as he looks to win over the employees at his new job.

Two days after the resignation of Larry Trent, Gov. Pat Quinn named Monken the new director of the Illinois State Police yesterday afternoon.

"I will work tirelessly," Monken said at a news conference at the Thompson Center. "My ultimate goal is to serve with distinction."

Monken, 29, is a former U.S. Army captain and led more than 100 tank combat missions in Iraq without losing any soldiers, said Quinn. The Bronze Star recipient has also served in Kosovo and as a recruiter for the Illinois National Guard.

But while Monken's resumé is impressive, including finishing in the top one percent of his West Point class, many question his youth and lack of law enforcement background. Trent, the former director, served with the State Police for 22 years before he was appointed in 2003 by former Gov. Blagojevich.

Will a young man with no local police knowledge be able to garner the respect of officers with years of experience? Is he familiar with case, civil, and criminal law? Will he be able to effectively handle budgets and patrol techniques?

Let's hope he really is "a quick study."

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, is a selectively good listener.

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