Caseyville has a new police chief, with the mayor picking a man with 35 years of law enforcement experience.
Jose Alvarez on Wednesday was named the new police chief of Caseyville, Mayor Len Black said. Alvarez is currently deputy chief of investigations with the St. Clair County State's attorney's office. He is 61, lived most of his life in Washington Park and recently moved to Smithton.
"I am very familiar with the village of Caseyville and I am well aware of the problems that the police department has been going through for the last year and a half. I think the police department has great potential. There are a lot of good officers there, and I think with the proper supervision we can bring the department up to what the citizens are entitled to."
He said he has enjoyed working for the county prosecutor's office, especially working to help violent crime victims. Last year the office handled 356 cases involving violent crime victims.
Alvarez replaces former police chief J.D. Roth, who took his own life June 13 at his home in Fairview Heights after being suspended and facing criminal charges in relation to misappropriating village property. Black previously picked Collinsville Police Lt. Todd Link for the job, but Link wound up refusing the offer.
"This action will be my administration's first step in making Caseyville, Illinois, an all-American village where every citizen will be safe whether they are at work, play or just enjoying everything that our great village has to offer," Black said.
Besides experience and education, Black said Alvarez was set apart from the other candidates during the lengthy search by stellar letters of recommendation from three of St. Clair county's top law enforcement officials.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly wrote that "the work Alvarez has done in the state's attorney's office, in the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and in the community are a testimony to his commitment to serving others and his commitment to the profession."
Kelly also noted Alvarez's work with the county Victims-Witness program, as well as his work as the Equal Employment Opportunity officer of St. Clair County.
Former State's Attorney Bob Haida said Alvarez has exemplary qualifications and Caseyville would do well to have him as head of its police department.
"I have never been more sure about a recommendation as I am about this one. I first met Joe when I was a young assistant state's attorney and he was serving the citizens of Washington Park as a police officer. His professionalism and expertise were evident then," Haida's letter said.
Haida also lauded Alvarez' work ethic and devotion to duty, friends and family.
The third letter was from St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson, who said he has known Alvarez for more than 30 years.
"He was instrumental in the formation of the Cahokia Police Department's Fraternal Order of Police where I was a patrolman and later retired as chief of police," Watson said.
Black said the public and media will have the opportunity to visit with Alvarez at a reception to be held following his swearing-in ceremony at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Black said he thinks Caseyville residents will be real pleased with his appointment.