New Streator police chief says his No. 1 goal is hiring officers, promoting department’s image

Police chief says he’ll visit community colleges to recruit, wants to set up workshops with public

New Streator Police Chief John Franklin is sworn in Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, at City Hall.

New Streator Police Chief John Franklin said he took a 4-mile walk around the city in his first week on the job.

The idea was to get an up-close, hands-on look at the city — and during that walk, he found himself pulling out his phone to take pictures.

“I was impressed with the history here,” Franklin said.

John C. Franklin was hired to be Streator's next police chief, effective Sept. 1.

He said he shared photos of the downtown murals of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto and was born in Streator, with his children. He also was impressed with the Reuben Soderstrom statue, an influential figure in the labor movement, heading the Illinois AFL-CIO for four decades.

Franklin, who had worked 28 years on the Chicago Police Department, as well as serve as chief in Dolton and Jacksonville, Arkansas, wants the Streator police department to build a strong relationship with the public and present a positive image.

To do so, the department soon will be hosting a three-to-four week public workshop for residents to learn about police matters, ranging from proper procedures for how to interact with police at a traffic stop to how to report a missing person, among several other items. He also wants to host one for teens and pre-teens. He said an announcement on the upcoming sessions will be posted to the Streator police department’s Facebook page.

The public “police academy” session is just one initiative of Franklin, who took the post Sept. 1, succeeding Robert Turner, who retired, and Deputy Chief Robert Wood, who had been filling the chief’s role in the interim.

Franklin’s No. 1 goal is to add officers to the force, citing two more officers may be seeking retirement soon. He said several officers are working overtime to cover shifts.

“We need bodies,” Franklin said. “My goal is to hire five to six officers within the next year.”

Franklin said he intends to visit two community college criminal justice programs, including Illinois Valley Community College, to talk to future officers about the prospect of working in Streator. A former criminal justice instructor at Daley College, he said he wants to talk about the positives of a police career.

“It’s a tough sell right now,” Franklin said of the police profession. “The more education a student receives, the less likely they are to become a police officer. We need to change that. And it starts by presenting a positive image everyday.”

Franklin said he also would like to add diversity to Streator’s police force. He said there are no women on staff or people of color. He said it would be a bonus to add a Spanish-speaking officer to the staff, with 9% of the population of Streator speaking Spanish.

On top of adding staff, Franklin also wants officers to gain further training. He said Deputy Chief Wood recently attended a program led by the FBI. When Franklin was hired, he said he wanted to set up a solid succession plan for when he left the department so the the department could promote from within.

“I want our officers to excel,” Franklin said. “Whether it be here, or elsewhere, I wanted to see them succeed in their career.”

Franklin said the message he’s given his officers is to remember they are role models for the city.

“They are walking and talking advertisements for the city, for the police department,” Franklin said. “Every day.”