Lebanon hires ex-Marine as new police chief

News-DemocratJanuary 14, 2014 

A retired Illinois State Police lieutenant colonel and Marine will be Lebanon's new police chief.

Scott D. Abbott, 50, was appointed Monday during the Lebanon City Council meeting and the swearing in ceremony will be in two weeks.

Abbott said he is excited to work in Lebanon, and he and the mayor share the same vision of bringing greater growth, professionalism and knowledge to the city and police agency.

"Even though I'm retired from the State Police, I still love public service and I still love police work," Abbott said.

Abbott lives in rural Sorento with his wife, Janice. Their four daughters are Michelle, Emily, Courtney and Melody. He will commute to Lebanon, which is about 30 miles from Sorento.

Abbott said he will spend his first few weeks getting to know his officers, and meeting with businesses and residents to hear what they have to say about the Police Department.

Abbott served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1981-87 as an aviation firefighter, and he flew with the search and rescue in Japan, among other roles.

The State Police hired Abbott in 1989 and he has worked in Districts 3, 4 and 11, which includes the metro-east.

Abbott also was the bureau chief of training at the police academy in Springfield and helped train the officers at McKendree University.

"This guy has done it all," Lebanon Mayor Richard Wilkin said. "We are blessed in this town to have someone of this quality come into our community ... He's a good man and we need him."

Wilkin said he heard of Abbott through friends, who spoke highly of Abbott and said he was a man who likes challenges.

"The town has suffered from a perception that our Police Department is not up to par and when you're dealing with perceptions, they are there whether they're real or not real," Wilkin said. "He's going to raise the expectations of all the officers and bring everyone to a higher level of professionalism."

Abbott said he takes great pride in his professionalism, and it is his conduct and work ethic that has helped him advance in his career. Abbott said he will spend the first six months assessing the Lebanon agency's strengths and weaknesses.

"It's too early to say what, if any, weaknesses there are in the department now," Abbott said.

Abbott's compensation includes $70,000 in salary and participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

The Lebanon Police Department has eight officers.

Abbott will replace outgoing Police Chief Dale Warke, who retired in May. Warke joined the Lebanon Police Department on a part-time basis in 1988, became a full-time officer in 1989 and was promoted to chief in 2009.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

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