GENEVA – After 26 1/2 years as a police officer, Geneva Deputy Chief Michael Frieders retired Aug. 1.
Frieders started his career as a Kendall County deputy for a year before coming to Geneva at the urging of his long-time friend, now Geneva Police Chief Eric Passarelli.
“He had come to Geneva a year and a half before I did and really enjoyed it and talked highly of the chief, who was [William] Kidwell at the time,” Frieders said. “I applied, tested and was hired.”
Frieders grew up in Yorkville and had to get directions to find Geneva.
Frieders has held nearly every position there is as a police officer, from patrol to motorcycle – on a Harley no less – to detective, sergeant, administrative sergeant and commander, a title that was changed to deputy chief earlier this year.
“I always wanted to be a police officer as far back as I can remember,” Frieders said. “Nobody in my family was an officer.”
The biggest change in police work from the time he started is technology.
“When I started, there was no computer in my car, no phone in my car and a neighboring sheriff’s office did not have a portable radio,” Frieders said. “What used to take days or weeks to get information when I started, now we can get this information in a matter of minutes.”
Though the speed of information has improved, the importance of slowing down in personal interactions has not changed, he said.
“Officers need to spend more time in personal interactions and really resolve problems,” Frieders said.
Officers now receive crisis intervention training to deal with citizens who have mental illness or are having a crisis.
“It’s knowing how to pick up on those signs and really listen to what’s going on and find out what’s really the issue,” Frieders said. “And getting those people help rather than getting them to the point where they’re arrested.”
His most memorable work was being appointed commander of the Major Crimes Task Force for Kane County. While in that position, he was part of the investigation into the Pratt shooting in Aurora in 2019 that left six people dead.
He also investigated a death case that looked to be an overdose, but because of suspicious circumstances, he relied on the FBI evidence team to collect evidence. Ultimately, there was no foul play; it was an accidental overdose death.
“His mom sent me a note 13 years later to thank me,” Frieders said. “She remembered me and how I treated her during the investigation and how we helped her get through it. When you work on a case, you don’t realize the impact you have on people’s lives. You’re in the moment and for her to send the note 13 years later made an impact on me for sure.”
While Frieders is leaving the Geneva Police Department, he will continue working as a part-time Geneva firefighter as he has for the past 22 years. He also will be working as a school district safety and security coordinator in Oswego.
As for his personal life, Frieders will only say that he is old enough to retire, he is married with four children and they live in the area.
Passarelli described Frieders as someone who is more on the serious side – but with a great sense of humor who does a good job of keeping things light when appropriate.
“He brought a great deal of leadership to the police department. He never took shortcuts. He always looked for ways to allow our staff to safely and efficiently serve the community,” Passarelli wrote in an email.
Passarelli credited Frieders with overseeing important projects, including the implementation of the new radio platform and the squad car camera program, and said Frieders was instrumental in the creation of the department’s first chaplain program.
“You cannot teach someone to care as much as Mike does. He loves the city and cares deeply for all he served,” Passarelli wrote. “Mike leaves very big shoes to fill. He’s a great human being and an outstanding police officer who will be greatly missed by many.”