Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell is stepping down and will be the new police chief in Wilmington later this month. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell is stepping down and will be the new police chief in Wilmington later this month. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park police chief heading to Wilmington

By Jeff Vorva

Orland Park Police Chief Joseph Mitchell is stepping down and has accepted the chief’s post in Wilmington.

He spent 27 years on the Orland Park force and was named chief in September 2020. But he cited wanting a change of scenery and his last day in Orland Park will be March 25.

“The 27 years in Orland Park has been an incredible experience and a great opportunity,” he said. “I love the community dearly. But this is a new chapter in my career.”

He switches from a community of close to 60,000 people to one that is a shade over 6,000. He replaces Phil Arnold, who moved over to become police chief in Shorewood.

“This is a chance to grow a smaller organization and to modernize it,” Mitchell said. “Orland Park is great about community-relations oriented policing but this is going to be a little more involved and more in depth. The chief of police in Orland Park with 116 officers – you are doing a lot more administering and dealing with a lot of personnel.”

Deputy Chief Eric Rossi has been appointed interim chief until a permanent chief is selected.

During his Orland Park career, Mitchell has taken on roles as patrol officer, investigator, sergeant, lieutenant, commander, deputy chief and chief. He also served briefly as the interim assistant village manager in 2019.

“Chief Mitchell has faithfully and diligently served the Village of Orland Park,” said Mayor Keith Pekau in a news release. “He has provided steadfast and dependable leadership to the men and women of the Orland Park Police Department throughout his period as chief.

“In 2021, the Village of Orland Park had the lowest number of index crimes in 27 years and was recently named the eighth safest small city in America, thanks to his outstanding leadership.”

“Chief Mitchell is an exemplary professional whose presence will be missed,” added Village Manager George Koczwara. “We wish him the best in his retirement and thank him for his many years of public service to the Orland Park community.”

During his two-year tenure as chief, Mitchell had the headaches of dealing with felons coming down and committing crimes and he and Pekau have been publicly at odds with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for allowing dangerous criminals to go free. He will be dealing now with Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow.

“Dealing with a different state’s attorney, I’ll be honest with you, is quite enticing,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell replaced longtime chief Tim McCarthy and he thanked the former chief for his guidance and encouragement throughout the years.

“It’s been a dream career,” he said. “I’m proud of the organization. It was a great career. But this is a new chapter and a new experience waiting for me.”

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