On January 1st 2016, James Kveton began his first day as Police Chief for the St. John Police Department. Now nearly a year later, Chief Kveton reflects back on his first year and his accomplishments within the new department.
“We wanted to keep the community informed, so we’ve been active on social media to reach out to the community," Chief Kveton explained. “I’ve met with and talked to almost every social group and club in town too. Like the St. John Chamber of Commerce, The Women’s Club, the VFW, and many more. My newest and biggest project now is trying to raise money to install dash cams in all of our squad cars.”
Chief Kveton’s previous Police Department was in Elmhurst, IL. There, he worked his way up the ranks from Sergeant Commander, to Deputy Chief. He was also responsible for that department’s dashcam program.
“I found that any time somebody came in to express some displeasure with an interaction with a law enforcement officer, the dash camera footage 100 percent of the time proved the officer was correct. So, I’m trying to implement that program here in St. John. With the dash cams you not only have the ability to record, document, and use evidence of crimes, but to also help protect our officers from false accusations of any kind," said Chief Kveton.
A major drawback to the project is it’s tremendous cost. For the dashcam program to go into full effect in each cruiser the department needs to raise $150 thousand. Chief Kveton and the department has sought help from the community and local organizations to meet their goal.
“We have a lot of community support for that project and we’ve had a lot of donations from individuals and groups,” Chief Kveton explained. “The VFW had a steak fry for us that raised $4,200. Several citizens have donated small amounts. Business are also donating to us too. We’re at about $15 thousand right now, so we have a long way to go.”
Chief Kveton encourages anyone interested in supporting the dashcam project, can go to the department's Facebook page to find out more or they can contact the department directly.
The implement of dashcams will undoubtedly improve the department as well as the community. But, Chief Kveton and his outreach extends out to beyond the community as well. Throughout November he is encouraging Officers to compete in the “No Shave November” event to raise funds for St. Jude’s Research Hospital.
“We started it to build morale within our department and continue cohesiveness with the community. I put out a challenge for our public works department to compete against us for the ability to grow a beard and also who can raise the most funds. We’ll end the event on November 30th at a celebratory event to see how well we did at Michael's Sports Bar at 6 o’clock. If anybody wants to sponsor an officer, there's more information on our facebook page and our main site.” said Chief Kveton.
With all of Chief Kveton actions to improve the community, he is looking to cement himself in St. John as soon as his new home completes construction. Once the home is ready, he and his wife kathy, his daughter Carly, his son Brad, and golden retriever, Rusty will all become residents of St. John.
“We’re all looking forward to in. This year has been good. We’ve had some moving turmoil, but it's a beautiful community with very supportive citizen, and we’re all looking forward to finally joining the community here.”