Rock Island has named a new police chief and a new library director.
Jeff VenHuizen, 41, a 19-year veteran of the Rock Island Police Department and the current deputy chief, has been selected to fill the chief’s position, which opened after the retirement of Scott Harris.
The announcement was made Wednesday by City Manager Thomas Thomas.
VenHuizen said he applied for the job because, “I’m at that point in my career where the timing is right and I want to continue on the path laid out before me by others who helped position me to assume the responsibilities of chief of police.”
He added that many people over the years have helped him learn not only the crime-fighting aspect of police work, but also the role of an administrator and leader.
VenHuizen said he will assume his duties Monday.
In an ever-changing society, he said, the police department must constantly evaluate itself in order to be the best for its citizens.
“There are a lot of police departments that are doing business the same way they have for years and years because that’s they way they’ve always done it,” he said. “We should be constantly looking to re-evaluate ourselves, not to change for the sake of change, but an evaluation that leads to meaningful change.”
A good example of that change is the proactive approach to policing brought about by the department’s Crime Suppression Unit that was activate earlier this year.
“Rather than constantly responding to the same issues, they’re problem solvers,” VenHuizen said of that team. “They find the root cause of the problem and take steps to correct it.”
That strategy has worked its way into the regular patrol beats, too, he said.
The other addition to the city staff is Quad-City native Angela Campbell, 38, who will begin her duties as library director on Jan. 21.
Campbell, originally of Eldridge, worked at the Davenport Public Library for 13 years before being hired two years ago as director of the Glenwood (Iowa) Public Library.
“I’m thrilled to be coming home,” she said. “It’s rare when a position opens in a place you want to live.”
Campbell said she took the job in Glenwood because she wanted to become a library director.
“I moved there to get my experience,” she said. “We engaged in strategic planning and fundraising for a new renovation project. I also got a grant for a technology lab.
“In Glenwood I hit the ground running, and I plan to do the same thing in Rock Island,” Campbell said.
Campbell said she will engage in strategic planning, gauge staff strengths and see how the library fits with the community’s goals.
“Everything’s on the table,” she said. “The library there has great bones. It has a lot going for it. That’s what’s exciting about it all.”