A Conversation With New Maywood Police Chief Valdimir “Val” Talley
By Michael Romain
Last Friday, I sat down with Maywood’s new police chief Valdimir “Val” Talley. When we talked, it had only been a few days since his official swearing-in and he’d only been on the job for five days, but he had the authority of a seasoned veteran. That’s probably because he is. For a look at his extensive professional background, click here.
What motivated you to apply for the chief of police job here in Maywood?
I have a family here in the Chicago area, so I wanted to move back. Maywood was only one of the many spots I applied for. This position was particularly unique in that it had an accelerated process. It typically takes about six months for the application process for a chief-of-police position to resolve itself. With Maywood, I didn’t have to wait that long. And I have various relatives in Maywood.
Talk a bit about some of the marquee issues that you want to address during your tenure. I know you said that transparency is one of them.
I’m going to try to be open for the public. I didn’t waste time [granting this interview]. I’m going to have an open door. Secondly, public safety is our mantra. Every objective, directive, everything we do will incorporate that goal.
What aspects of your extensive professional background prepared you for this role?
I had the honor and privilege to attend the FBI National Academy’s executive leadership course. Only about one-half of one percent of all law enforcement executives in the nation get to go. And its pretty intense. There’s a serious physical fitness core. I even had to write a research paper, which required me to analyze what I thought was going to be the next major crime trend in America.
What was the crime trend you focused on?
Identity theft. Actually, on my first day on this job, I talked to a resident who was victimized by identity theft. I used to run a statewide fraud unit and I was able to guide the officer in charge of that investigation through the requisite procedures.
You also talked about physical fitness.
Yes, speaking to the physical fitness aspect, the Illinois State Police has a saying. Once you become a law enforcement official, ‘you lose your right to be physically unfit’. I’m going to encourage physical fitness in the department, but I won’t make it a demand.
I told officers I’m going to adopt, and involve myself, in their unique culture. I’ve been interviewing my staff and they pointed out that Maywood is more than just a small western suburb. This is an urban environment — a major highway artery runs through it, it hosts a major medical institution, a veteran’s hospital, [nearly 2,000] kids in a high school — that’s a lot of traffic. Maywood has all of the challenges of a big city. I’m always impressed with the Mayor and those trustees, because they are forced into heavy decision-making addressing urban issues on a small community budget.
That’s an important point. Maywood’s issues do tend to overwhelm its financial and resource capacities to handle them. Do you plan on collaborating with any other governmental entities or organizations to mitigate these problems?
Oh yeah. For instance, Broadview’s Chief of Police Luis Tigera is a former Illinois State Police officer and a graduate of the FBI Academy. I intend on fostering a relationship with him and his department. I’m going to endeavor to foster as many of those kinds of relationships as possible.
You spoke about identity theft as a major national crime trend that has been directly felt in Maywood. What local crime trends do see your department having to contend with?
There’s lots of gun and narcotic activity here that we’ll seek to address. Just today I had a resident tell me about narcotic activity.
Is there anything you’ve identified in your short time on the job that you look forward to confronting on a systematic basis?
Yes, the Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies (MAPS) program. We don’t get a lot of participation from our Hispanic community members. We have a very unique and diverse community and we need to embrace that diversity. We want their input. I plan to try to meet with them, involve myself in activities with them and encourage their participation.
How has the transition been?
My staff has been tremendously helpful. Although Commander [Sonya] Horn is currently away training at Northwestern, Commander [Elijah] Willis has been here assisting me and he’s been exceptional. There’s no stoppage of our activity, because we work together. I think the officers here are very good and I want to take the time to get to know them. Then I need to reintroduce them to the community, so they’ll know what I see in them.
When you were sworn in and in several meetings before that point, you mentioned that you plan on moving into Maywood [which isn’t a requirement for the job]. How’s the house-hunting going?
It’s going pretty good. I have a realtor assisting me and we’ve got about ten properties I’m looking at. The houses have been really nice. There’s one that’s caught my eye. VFP