On his first day in uniform as the interim Grayslake Police Chief, Jack McKeever was on patrol and saw a man running down Route 120, looking nervously over his shoulder.
"My cop instincts went up," McKeever said. When he heard a broadcast of a man who had allegedly scammed a taxi driver fitting that general description over the police radio, McKeever called it in. Turns out, the man had just been released from the Lake County Jail. He was apprehended near Strang Funeral Home on Route 120.
Once a cop, always a cop, so the saying goes. That turned out to be true for McKeever, a veteran cop with 40 years experience.
"I never thought I'd wear a uniform again, but I am glad to be here," McKeever said after taking his oath of office April 17 during the Grayslake Village Board meeting.
McKeever, 67, had been chief in Lindenhurst for 17 years, and worked in the Highland Park Police Department before that. He retired one year ago. He said his familiarity with Grayslake led him to want to help out during the transition.
McKeever was hired as interim chief after former Chief Matt McCutcheon resigned following his DUI arrest in Wisconsin. McCutcheon was charged with driving under the influence and carrying his loaded weapon under the influence. He also hit another car head-on on March 30. No accidents were reported.
McCutcheon resigned last week. Village Administrator Mike Ellis said the decision to resign was McCutcheon's alone. He was not forced out. The village staff has begun the process of finding and interviewing candidates for the permanent chief's role.
That will not be McKeever.
"Absolutely not," he said, smiling. "I'll be here for two or three months."
Mayor Rhett Taylor said McKeever is the perfect candidate for interim chief.
"We wanted someone who had great people skills," said Taylor. "Jack does. This allows us to have continuity of service to the community."
Taylor praised the Grayslake Police Department.
"Our police force is top notch," he said. "They are accredited. They do a great job."
Taylor said the situation with McCutcheon was completely out of character. "It is inconsistent with his personality," Taylor said. "He had an exemplary record for 20 years with our department. There is nothing like this in his background. But now we need to move forward."
Taylor said they hope to appoint a new chief by early summer.