Oak Brook’s New Police Chief
by Chuck Fieldman
Oak Brook’s new police chief may be new to the job, but is anything but a rookie with the village’s police department. Brian Strockis has spent the past 22 years working for the Oak Brook Police Department. He is one of several candidates who submitted an application for the job of chief, which was vacated last December when James Kruger left to take the same position in East Dundee, after more than 10 years as Oak Brook’s top cop. Strockis stood out in a field that had several impressive candidates, including some who were internal, Village President Gopal Lalmalani said. “Brian is young, energetic, hardworking, and passionate about serving our residents in his new role, and over the years he has been very tough on crime, particularly in the (Oakbrook Center) mall area and in our residential subdivisions in Oak Brook,” Lalmalani said.
Before joining the Oak Brook department, Strockis earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal science/police science from Lewis University. After being hired in Oak Brook, he worked first as a patrol officer, before moving on to detective, patrol sergeant and detective sergeant. The 44-year-old Strockis said he is excited to be chosen from within the Oak Brook ranks — the first time that has happened since 2004 — and to be the village’s 10th chief, overall. Strockis said his significant experience with the Oak Brook department has allowed him to “hit the ground running.” “I think it’s a huge morale boost to everyone in our department that they decided to go with an internal candidate, and I plan to stay around for a long time,” he said. Oak Brook had two interim chief after Kruger left, before first naming Strockis as interim chief and making it permanent on June 14.
“Throughout the entire selection process, Brian demonstrated his commitment to the department, village, residents and businesses of the community, alongside his stellar track record and self-initiative that will propel the department forward over the next several years to come,” Lalmalani said. Strockis said he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement while taking a class on the subject at Triton College. “After high school, I started working full time for a print shop and then a health insurance claims processing company and was unsure about the career I wanted to pursue,” he said. “I started taking college courses at Triton College, took a criminal justice course as an elective and was extremely engaged and intrigued about learning as much as I could about the profession.” Strockis said when he turned 21, he immediately began taking police tests and took a job as an auxiliary police officer in Rosemont. He took the Oak Brook police test and was hired when he was 22. “When I started my career, it was extremely competitive to get hired as a police officer,” Strockis said.
Often, hundreds of candidates would take an entrance exam when there was only a potential for one or two openings. I took many suburban tests, Chicago PD and even the (Los Angeles Police Department) test, as I had some friends in California at the time. He said he is grateful to Oak Brook for giving him the opportunity to work as a police officer. “I received calls from other departments after I was hired, but am glad I stayed in Oak Brook,” he said. “The people in Oak Brook are amazing. It’s great to work for a community that truly appreciates and supports the police.” If he had not pursued a career in law enforcement, Strockis said he would have enjoyed working as a mechanic. “I have friends that can fix just about anything, and I’m intrigued by just about anything with a motor in it,” he said. When he’s not working, Strockis said he enjoys boating, motorcycling, exercising, golfing and hockey. “I still play a little men’s league hockey when I have time,” he said. Strockis also is a divorced, single father to two girls and a boy: Cameron, 15; Madison, 14; and Christian, 5.
Being named as Oak Brook’s new police chief was the high end of an emotional rollercoaster ride for Strockis. “I lost my father in February of this year, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. “My dad was such an influence in my life and would always say that life is about peaks and valleys. “Losing him was my deepest valley, and being appointed police chief four months later was my highest professional peak. I wish he could have been there to see it, but I know he’s looking down and is proud.” Strockis said he is excited about the future of the Oak Brook department. “We have officers that are dedicated to this community and this profession,” he said. “Throughout the entire police chief selection process, President Lalmalani and the entire Village Board expressed their tremendous support for the Police Department, and I’ve relayed that message to our rank and file. Being the first internal police chief since 2004, I’m living proof that the sky is the limit as to what you can accomplish with this department.” The Oak Brook Police Department is comprised of 41 full-time, sworn police officers, eight non-sworn civilian staff members and, three sworn auxiliary officers.
*Photo provided by the Oak Brook Police Department