KANKAKEE — Frank Kosman still is feeling his way around Kankakee and the 68-member Kankakee police force he has been chosen to lead.
But the 5-foot-4-inch former Bensenville police chief and son of a Nicor Gas service technician is hoping to bring a fresh look to the department, and he might be already a first for a Kankakee police chief.
The 59-year-old Kosman’s hobby is playing in a polka band.
“It’s something I’ve been doing on and off for 20 years. ... I’m not very accomplished,” he confessed during an interview with the Daily Journal. “I’m not ready to take it on the road.”
Regardless of Kosman’s musical abilities, the man sworn into office May 6 and who started his city tenure May 16, sat down to answer a few questions about his vision for the department and his love for police work.
Why did you want to become a police officer?
Kosman said it actually was something one of his Marist High School (Class of 1978) teachers said.
“The teacher gave a talk. He said we are the leaders of the next generation. I thought police and helping others would be a great profession to get in. ... We were going to be the future leaders in America and we should prepare ourselves.
“Policing is an honorable, good profession. I made it my goal.”
If you did not enter law enforcement, what profession might you have entered?
“I always enjoyed sports.” Kosman played running back for Marist High School. He also loved baseball. A South Side Chicago native, Kosman is a Chicago White Sox fan.
“I think it would have been something in the sports field,” the Blue Island native noted. He thought of owning his own sporting goods store.
After a long and successful career in Bensenville, why didn’t you just want to sit back and relax?
“I really enjoy the work. It’s a challenging job. I like to identify problems and find solutions. I wanted to stay in the field.”
Compare Bensenville to Kankakee?
“They are both dynamic, diverse towns. Bensenville is more warehousing (it is near O’Hare International Airport). But it did not have a defined downtown area. Kankakee has more of a city identity.”
Kosman drove to Kankakee several times before he was hired. At first he thought Kankakee was a far southern suburb to Chicago. He discovered it’s a little more south than that.
“I found it to be more a ‘city,’” he said of Kankakee. “The river has so much potential. That makes this city unique.”
What was it about the Kankakee position which caused you to seek this job?
He wanted to work in a larger town than Bensenville. Kankakee fits that bill.
“It’s an action department,” he said. He noted the specialty units the city has.” He also did not want to be far from Chicago.
“I’m comfortable in the Chicagoland area. I can still see family and children and grandchildren.”
What is your favorite police show?
“Funny you ask. I really don’t watch too many police shows.” But if he has to choose, he said the last one he watched was “Hill Street Blues.”
“I enjoyed that show, but I usually watch something else.”
What was your perception of Kankakee prior to arriving here? Has your perception changed?
“I just thought it was another South Side suburb. I like (the) separate neighborhoods. I think that brings more closeness in neighborhoods. I like that.
“Nothing has really surprised me.” Kosman has been impressed with what he calls the “professionalism” of the city force.
What do you consider your top challenge here?
“I want to identify problems sooner to increase safety here. It’s meeting and talking to people and finding out what the problems are.”
Kosman said he’s been somewhat caught off guard by the number of people who already know him and have approached him.
Although he didn’t note it as his golden rule, Kosman plans to impress on his new department a simple, but important, way of conducting business.
“Treat everyone like you or your family would like to be treated. When you keep that in mind everything else becomes natural.”