Jim Phelps

Bourbonnais Police Chief Jim Phelps

BOURBONNAIS — Bourbonnais Police Chief Jim Phelps will retire next year after 31 years with the department.

However, he won’t be packing up his belongings and leaving. The 56-year-old Phelps will remain on the force as chief.

Phelps said his retirement was dictated by the current pension system.

After reaching the age of 55 and achieving 31 years of service, benefits could be reduced if he didn’t retire.

Phelps has been with the Bourbonnais department for 31 years. Before joining Bourbonnais, Phelps worked as a deputy with the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Department for two years.

Mayor Paul Schore and the trustees want to keep Phelps as chief.

“Thankfully, I did not want to retire, and the board does not want me to leave,” Phelps said.

At Monday’s board meeting, there was a first reading of an ordinance to keep Phelps on.

According to the ordinance, the agreement starts Jan. 11, and Phelps will serve as chief until April 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year. His salary is $131,550.

Starting Jan. 11, he no longer will be an employee of the village. Rather, he will serve as an independent contractor.

“I’m not getting another pension,” Phelps said. “I cannot statutorily. There is no double-dipping. This is becoming commonplace with police organizations. Senior leadership in chiefs and executive officers are retiring en masse. This has been a problem for a while.”

“It’s a glitch in the system,” Schore said.

Phelps said more and more chiefs and officers in executive leadership roles are retiring.

Trustees had reappointed Phelps as chief earlier this year.

“He’s done a great job,” Schore said. “He has kept up running our department as one of the premiere departments in the county. When someone calls 911, our officers are in the driveway of the caller within one or two minutes.

“I have many residents telling me our officers show empathy and sympathy. I get lots of compliments about our department. That effort starts at the top with the police chief. He has continued on the tradition of the Bourbonnais police department.”

Phelps was named interim chief in October 2012, when Greg Kunce retired. Two months later, the village trustees removed “interim” from the title.

When Kunce was named chief in 2011, Phelps was promoted to deputy chief.

Reporter

Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is jbonty@daily-journal.com.