WORDS TO LIVE BY - Chris Deichman speaks to the criminal justice administration class at Rend Lake College this morning. Deichman has served the Mt. Vernon Police Department for 22 years as patrolman, seargeant, captain and as the assistant chief of police since 2004. He is a 1988 graduate of the criminal justice program at RLC. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. – “Learn everything you can.” That was one key piece of advice from Assistant Chief of Police Chris Deichman to criminal justice students this morning at Rend Lake College.
The RLC graduate and 22-year Mt. Vernon Police Department veteran visited the justice administration class to offer insight into the profession, as well as words of inspiration and encouragement. Criminal justice administration is one of several courses toward an occupational certificate or associate degree in criminal justice at RLC. The class examines organizational structures and administrative theories of criminal justice agencies like the MVPD.
RLC Criminal Justice Instructor Ron Meek called the MVPD a “progressive police agency.” Deichman said the department is unusually wide-ranging in the number and type of divisions being coordinated by a single, self-sufficient police department.
“We’ve got a lot of different areas a person can branch off into,” Deichman said.
He recounted his career, which has been very successful and marked by swift movement up the ranks. He credited that success to hard work, “going the extra mile” and taking hold of opportunities made possible by good supervisors he once worked under.
After graduating from RLC with his associate degree in criminal justice in 1988, Deichman quickly took a job at a police department. But it wasn’t in Mt. Vernon. His first beat was on the streets of Atlanta – the nation’s most murderous city at that time. He was eventually drawn back home where he became a patrolman with the MVPD and found a calling to the K-9 division, which he joined in 1993. He said his six years working a dog in K-9, particularly the years as a sergeant on the midnight shift, were the “most fun” of his career so far.
However, by living up to his philosophy of “if you don’t try to advance yourself, you are only cheating yourself,” his days with the K-9 division would end shortly after his promotion to captain in 1999.
“It was a tough decision to give the K-9 position up,” he said, explaining that his new administrative duties cut into his time with the dog. “I hated to do it, but I had to give up the dog.”
In 2004, Deichman replaced retired Assistant Chief of Police Bill Degenhardt and has served as AC ever since. In eight years, he will have served 30 years with the MVPD at the age of 52. “Then, I’ll probably retire,” he said.
He covered the hiring and training process, talked about internship possibilities and recommended students diversify their skill sets.
“With budget cuts and the economy, police departments are having to cut back too. You look a lot more enticing to an employer if you can multi-task.”
Questions from students about areas like testing, qualifications, academy training, police work and more kept coming until the end of class when Meeks had to close with a big round of applause from the students.
“Get your foot in the door anywhere you can,” Deichman told them. “... It may not be where you most want to start, but get in wherever you can.”