Student Development Liaisonjames.firstname.lastname@example.org(708) 656-8000
Ext: #2459Building C, Room 239
Jim Ritz calls Morton College the gateway that allowed him to begin a career in law enforcement 30-plus years ago. Now in his capacity as an adjunct instructor, the Chief of Police for the City of Berwyn guides a future generation of Morton College students considering law enforcement careers.
“I’m trying to help students use Morton College as a steppingstone to continue on, like I did,” Ritz said. “I still see a lot of my students that I had here.”
Ritz’s qualifications to run Illinois’ 25th largest city are impressive. The native of Lyons, who oversees a staff of 108 sworn officers and 160 civilians, has a pair of master’s degrees –one is in public service management from DePaul and the other in criminal and social justice from Lewis. He also attended the 197th session of the FBI National Academy’s law enforcement executive leadership development program in Quantico, Virginia.
His approach to law enforcement combines modern-day CSI techniques and “old-school” methods.
“What we do here with the Berwyn Police Department is feel a sense of community,” Ritz said. “We try to provide the best services we can to the community. We have all sorts of programs and work with kids, the elderly. We don’t want people to be afraid to call us."
“We all get into law enforcement to help people and be part of the community.” Ritz added. “A lot of times you’re dealing with people in difficult situations. Our goal is to make the community safe and a desirable place to be.”
Among Ritz’s initiatives are the hiring of a School Resource Officer and production of a YouTube video, Connect with the Berwyn Police Department. The video informs people about the department’s services in an entertaining, yet informative way.
“With the video, we want kids to see us in a different light,” Ritz said. “We want to be approachable and we don’t want people to be afraid to call us. Our new School Resource Officer is there to build relationships with parents and kids in the community.”
Ritz works to clear the misconception that police work is wrapped up in 60-minute segments like on TV. That’s one of the first topics he covers in Introduction to Law Enforcement, the entry-level course in Morton College's program.
“This is the class where the students get their first impression as to what a police career is like,” Ritz said. “It’s not like TV where the case is solved in 15 minutes.”
Ritz has taught the gamut of courses in Law Enforcement. Another one of his favorites is Court Procedures and Evidence.
“You learn about testifying on the stand, writing reports, the evidence process,” Ritz explained. “It’s more than what people see on TV.”
Ritz was originally considering a career in business before switching to law enforcement. At Morton College, he played two years on the baseball team for Stan Pace and later earned his Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement.
“I was keeping my options open,” Ritz said. “I tried business, but it wasn’t my passion. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with the public and it took me on the career path to law enforcement.”
He then worked as a security director for a transportation company. However, Ritz discovered he still had the itch to get back into law enforcement.
“I was fortunate enough to be considered for and selected the city of Berwyn’s Chief of Police,” said Ritz, a graduate of Morton West High School in Berwyn.
After 20 years as an adjunct instructor, Ritz still maintains a connection to Morton College.
“George Seibel (Morton College law enforcement instructor) does a tremendous job in running the program,” Ritz said. “Look at the quality of the instructors teaching the courses. They bring a great deal of knowledge and experience, and the students benefit from it.”UPDATE: Jim Ritz was hired as the chief of police in Willow Springs in July of 2018.