Sabet named Hebron top cop, replacing 11-year department veteran Donlea

Ramtin Sabet, left, is congratulated by Hebron Village Attorney Michael Smoron following Sabet's swearing in as the village's new chief of police on Dec. 27, 2022.

A Hebron officer has been named the village’s chief of police following the departure of department veteran Chief Rich Donlea, village officials said.

Ramtin Sabet was sworn in to his new role at a board meeting Tuesday at Hebron Village Hall. His annual salary was set at $60,000 a year with an official Dec. 31 start date.

Donlea took leave on Nov. 11, and Sabet has been acting chief since then, Village President Robert Shelton said.

Donlea officially left the chief’s role on Dec. 1. He had been with the department since September 2011 and was appointed chief in June 2017.

Sabet was hired onto the Hebron department in July 2019. Prior to that, Sabet was a sergeant at the Oakwood Hills Police Department.

Shelton and Village Attorney Michael Smoron would not elaborate on Donlea’s departure.

“Rich Donlea is no longer with the Hebron Police Department,” Shelton said during his scheduled comments on the board agenda.

“We wish him the best,” Shelton said.

Before the Village Board’s 5-0 vote to approve Sabet’s new role, several of the trustee’s commented on his work since taking over as interim chief.

Trustee Josh Stevens said he has seen Sabet in the schools, adding “I appreciate all of the stuff he has done for the community in the time he has been acting chief.”

Sabet is now chief of a four-person police department, including himself. Hebron has one other full-time police officer and two part-time officers, Shelton said.

Elected to the village president role in spring 2021, Shelton ran on a promise of reducing Hebron’s law enforcement spending and has since made several cuts to its ranks. As recently as 2019, the department had 19 officers for the village of almost 1,400 residents.

Sabet’s report to the board Tuesday evening included him meeting with McHenry County Sheriff Robb Tadelman to discuss police coverage for Hebron, including multi-jurisdictional responses for calls.

“We are short on resources as a small department” Sabet said. By getting a multiagency response “if a major incident happens in town, our residents are getting a proper investigation,” Sabet said.

Officers have also received training on the SAFE-T Act, the Illinois law set to take effect next week, Sabet said. The law changes conditions for bail and other court and law enforcement regulations.

He also met with the Alden-Hebron School District 19 Superintendent Tiffany Elswick to discuss school safety and potentially future active shooter training at the school with several agencies, Sabet said.

Elswick had raised concerns in August about the impact of a smaller police department at the district’s schools.

“It’s imperative that the district have a stronger working relationship with the police department,” Elswick said at the time. “If we see a crisis, we are not prepared. As a leader of our district, as a mom, I am gravely concerned about safety.”

Attempts to reach Elswick on Wednesday were not successful.