Longtime Manteno Village Administrator and Police Chief Bernie Thompson and Lt. Joel Whalen announced on Monday they are both retiring in the coming months. News of their departure came at the village board meeting as the board approved hiring two new police officers, including its first ever female officer.

Whalen, 50, and Thompson, 64, leave the department May 1 and June 1, respectively.

Thompson has been village's police chief for 16 years over two stints. He was the Kankakee County sheriff for 10 years, in addition to being a detective and sheriff's deputy before that.

Whalen has spent all 29 years of his law enforcement career in Manteno.

The village has started taking applications for Thompson's position and plans to hire a new chief by April.

Thompson also will retire from his village administrator position, which Director of Building and Zoning Chris LaRocque will take over on May 1.

Jessica Rourke and Zairius West join the Manteno Police Department after recently serving on the Momence Police Department. They attended the police academy together, though for different departments.

Rourke, 25, of Lockport, previously worked at Momence for four months, as well as four months with the Stone Park Police Department. Her father, Joseph Rourke Sr., is a police sergeant with the Western Springs Police Department.

The village has had women applicants in the past, but Rourke is the first to join the department. She will start on March 6.

"I feel like I have big shoes to fill with that, and I'm looking forward to it," Rourke said. "I have a lot of good things to offer, and I think every department needs a female."

West, 24, of Bradley, was a 2011 graduate of Bradley-Bourbonnais High School. He has spent the past two years as a patrolman in Momence. Before that, he was a correctional officer at the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee. His first day with Manteno was Monday.

"Manteno a great community with an proactive police department," West said. "It's very well-run department."

Rourke and West's hirings put the department at full-force with 18 officers.

"They are both good young officers who have proven themselves at other departments," Thompson said. "They come highly recommended, so we are pretty excited about both of them."


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