State Police unveil 'best recruitment video in nation'

Troopers seek ‘the best of the best’ to join their ranks

“I’m looking for leaders, and leaders start as troopers,” says Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz in a new recruitment video. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

“I’m looking for leaders, and leaders start as troopers,” says Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz in a new recruitment video. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

A group seeking to “remove political influence” from the State Police is out with a new recruitment video intended to attract “the best of the best” to fill the ranks of state troopers.

“I’m looking for leaders, and leaders start as troopers,” says Leo Schmitz, a former Chicago cop who is now director of the Illinois State Police, as part of the video.

The six-minute video was produced by the Illinois State Police Merit Board, which states that its mission is to “remove political influence and provide a fair and equitable merit process for the selection of Illinois state-trooper candidates and the promotion and discipline of Illinois State Police officers.”

The briskly edited video, drawing on footage from dashboard cameras and other news coverage, appeals to an individual’s courage, stating: “When everyone else is running away, some of us are born to run into harm’s way.”

“There are people out there that were born to do this,” says Jack Garcia, a former state trooper who now serves as executive director of the merit board.

“There are men and women out there who’d rather do a job like this than any other job in the world,” Garcia added in a news release announcing the new video Thursday. “They get up every day with the expectation that they’re going to make a difference in the world. This film is designed to speak to them on a personal level.”

The video was commissioned by Andrew Berlin, a board member who owns Chicago-based Berlin Packaging as well as an ownership stake in the Cubs.

“I’m like a lot of other people here in Illinois who truly appreciate what it means to devote your life to the safety and protection of the men, women, and children who live here,” Berlin said. “This new film is one of the best recruitment videos in the nation because it talks as much about the people our troopers serve as it does about the job of professional law enforcement itself. We’re proud of our troopers. We’re proud of our state. And when you watch this film, pride is definitely one of the feelings you walk away with.”

“You never know how much you can do until you do more than you ever thought you could,” says a narrator in voice-over on the video. He goes on to laud “the men and women who protect us all” and their “life of service” as “the best of the best.”

“This is the most rewarding thing you could ever do,” Schmitz says.

Gov. Rauner puts in a brief appearance, telling troopers, “You are our heroes.”

Col. Jamal Simington talks of the most routine matters, such as helping people after a car crash, saying, “Someone is here who actually cares about you.”

Robin Woolery, director of the State Police lab, goes into forensics, saying, “It also helps to clear innocent people.”

“It’s a feel-good job,” adds another lab technician, citing her “pride and sense of accomplishment in the work you do.”

Garcia called it “the best recruitment video in the nation.”

It encourages those interested in the field to visit the website, where it’s the lead item on the home page. According to the merit board, it will also be used in schools and in public and private presentations on recruitment.

The video is also available on YouTube.