O'Fallon Progress

Long-serving O’Fallon police captain heads to Missouri to be a department’s new chief

After a 29-year career with the O’Fallon Police Department, Captain Jim Cavins is retiring July 5, and will be sworn in as the new police chief for Town and Country, Missouri, 10 days later, on July 15.

“I am very excited for the new chapter in my law enforcement career and anxious to build relationships with the Town & Country citizens, schools, business leaders, civic organizations, and faith-based organizations as OPD has in O’Fallon,” Cavins said.

Town and Country is in West St. Louis County, and started as a village in 1950 and incorporated as a city in 1975. Its population is 11,377, as estimated in July 2018. It has the highest median income of cities over 10,000 in population in the state, with an average of $134,387 in 2009.

The city is home to Maryville University, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Visitation Academy, Christian Brothers College High School and the Bellerive Country Club, which hosted the 2018 PGA Championship. The police department has 29 sworn officers.

Additionally, the Town and Country Police Department has such community programs as a Citizens Police Academy, Community Emergency Response Team, Be Aware Crime Prevention and Safety Network, and school partnerships.

While he tested and completed numerous interview panels for the new position, Cavins said O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach, City Administrator Walter Denton, Police Chief Eric Van Hook and the entire O’Fallon Police Department were supportive and gracious.

Cavins, who has been serving as operations commander, described his tenure in his hometown as “blessed and cherished.”

“There are no other words,” he said. “I started with the O’Fallon Police Department when I was 16 years old as a police explorer.”

While attending McKendree University, Cavins served an internship with the O’Fallon Police Department. Then, Police Chief Don Slazinik hired him Aug. 3, 1990.

“Immediately, Chief Slazinik was an inspiration as he encouraged all his employees to attain a higher education and promoted the importance of community policing and community engagement,” Cavins said.

Before rising through the ranks of sergeant to captain, Cavins served as a field training officer, school resource officer and detective.

“I have been honored to be an investigator, then supervisor, of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis for over 15 years, active member of the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and Vice-Chairman of the Southern Illinois Child Death Investigative Task Force Board,” he said.

Cavins has also been an instructor at the Southwestern Illinois College Police Academy.

“The last six years have been amazing and just a thrill,” he said. “Chief Van Hook has opened doors of opportunity for me that I never expected.

“The city of O’Fallon is fortunate to have such a great group of dedicated professionals within the Public Safety Department. I will remain ever so proud to call the men and women of the O’Fallon Police Department family.”

New police chief is grateful for support of family, O’Fallon city officials

He also praised the three “great women” of his own family.

“My wife, Patty, and two daughters, Alexi and Cassie, have provided support, patience, understanding, and love during my career that words cannot describe,” he said.

He said Cassie was unable to be present at Monday night’s city council meeting because she is expecting to deliver twin boys soon.

The mayor accepted Cavins’ resignation at Monday’s meeting, and then spoke glowingly of his years of service to the department and the community.

“We are losing a very, very good individual. He cares about this community. We could always count on him,” Roach said, noting Cavins was also a volunteer firefighter and involved in many other activities with his wife.

“On behalf of the city, we wish him nothing but the best when he becomes the police chief in Town and Country,” Roach said.

Van Hook, meanwhile, praised Cavins for how he handles every situation.

“Throughout his career, Jim has been a dedicated professional who approaches every situation with an eye toward building goodwill while seeking solutions that are most effective and efficient under the given circumstances,” he said. “Jim approaches every situation with professionalism, strong initiative, and superior judgment. His calm demeanor and thoughtfulness during difficult situations have left me with the impression that Jim is very well-equipped to operate in our profession at the highest level.”

The men have enjoyed working together.

“I could not be more proud of him personally and professionally, and know he will be a great chief for Town and Country,” Van Hook said.

Cavins received two standing ovations and shook every alderman’s hand. He thanked everyone, noting he was “speechless.” He specifically mentioned department heads and the staff, mentioning how important their teamwork was.

He also thanked his father, Ron, who was present.

“He’s been right by my side,” Jim Cavins said.

His mother, Joan, died in 2014. She was an active community volunteer, recognized for her dedication. She served on the Planning Commission for more than 20 years and worked in the advertising departments of the Belleville News-Democrat and O’Fallon Progress.

“It’s been a pleasure serving the city,” Cavins said. “I’m anxious to start the next chapter of my law enforcement career. I told them in Town and Country that I was not going to miss a beat because of the work that we do here in O’Fallon, how we engage with the community and the schools.”