In his Chicago Police Department uniform, Officer John Lepkowski pinned his son, Daniel, at Monday's swearing-in ceremony for five Springfield Police Department officers at the city council chamber.
John Lepkowski, who retired earlier this year after serving 25 years on the force, said his approach was always treating people with dignity and respect.
"It's not all about arrests," Lepkowski said. "It's about common sense. You're there to help. Do whatever it takes to help. Always have integrity. Treat people with respect and it will come back one hundredfold."
Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow, who presided over the swearing-in said the department is still about 30 officers down.
Winslow said the department would probably end up hiring 40 new officers throughout the next year.
"We're constantly recruiting, we're constantly looking for quality people," Winslow said. "We want the best of the best and we have to continue to strive to get that. Our recruiting numbers have been way down the last couple of years. With that said, I've been highly impressed with those who have stepped forward, expressing that desire to serve."
In addition to Daniel Lepkowski, sworn in Monday were Danny Battles, a graduate of the University of Hawaii and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps; Ian Hollendonner, who attended Miami University; Emily Schreiber, a graduate of Lincoln College and Richard Singletary, a graduate of Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas.
The officers graduated from the Macon County Law Enforcement Training Center in Decatur on Nov. 24. That is a 14-week boot camp type experience designed to challenge officers "physically and mentally while instilling discipline, teamwork, leadership and other vital skills needed to be successful in this career," Winslow said.
They have started a 20-week field training program at the Springfield academy, Winslow said, though that often gets extended by several weeks.
Winslow added that the department has made the police test more convenient for people to take.
"We try to offer at multiple times during the year," Winslow said. "We try to take away some of those barriers or obstacles people see to testing. We've changed how (people) take the test. It used to be that you would take the physical part the first day and if you didn't pass, you're out. You couldn't even take the written test.
"Now we realize we don't have the luxury of losing a person who was one sit-up short or 15 pounds light on his bench press or her bench press."
Winslow said Monday's ceremony reminded him of the one he was part in the same chamber in 1995.
"In this day in age, when people step forward to serve, with everything that's going on in our country, you know that desire is very, very strong," Winslow said.
For Daniel Lepkowski, it was about being attuned to his father's advice.
"I thought it'd be a great place to work in the capital," Lepkowski said about coming to Springfield. "Everybody in the family is in the first responder business, so all I've known my entire life was helping people."
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Springfield Police Department swears in five new officers