Sam Russell will return to Greenville roots
If you walked into the Rockford Police Department anytime in the last decade-and-a-half, chances are you talked to Sam Russell. Friday, Nov.13 was the last day for the “grandmother” of the department, who started her law enforcement career in Greenville, where she says everyone called her mom. She returns to her roots there to the Greenville Department of Public Safety.
Here in Rockford, Russell worked primarily as dispatcher, but also organized the communication records, was in charge of management compliance, making sure the department is networked properly with legal information, and coordinated the Volunteer Services Unit.
“We are surely going to miss her greatly,” said Jones. “She was a great asset to the department and has become the face of the Volunteer Services Unit. We wish her well in her new position in Greenville.”
Jones said the department will not be seeking a replacement for Russell. “I’m not sure we could find someone to fill her shoes,” he said. He said the department will try to cover Russell’s duties by some restructuring of responsibilities and utilizing the skills of existing employees.
Rockford has not faced the need to lay off employees and cut services as so many municipalities have this year and in prior years. Jones credits this financial stability with the management of the City, including the city manager and the city council. “It’s a credit to Michael Young and our council that in this financial climate and state funding cuts we haven’t had to do that,” Jones stated. “We are financially sound this year. Next year’s fiscal forecast shows we will be the same. That doesn’t preclude us from trying to be good stewards of tax dollars, and try to provide services as inexpensively as possible.”
Russell, during a tearful reception held in her honor at City Hall on Friday, said it was not an easy decision to leave Rockford. “I’ll still be around,” she said. “It was the right thing to do to return to Greenville.” She said she hopes to implement a volunteer unit in her new position. She credits her team here in Rockford as top notch. The Rockford Volunteer Services Unit is recognized as one of the top in the state. At a Citizens Corps Annual Conference at Great Wolf Lodge, the Rockford volunteers were asked to be in charge of registration, an impressive vote of confidence.
Russell said in her first law enforcement job in Greenville, the officers called her mom, and here in Rockford they have come to call her grandmom. “The older you get, the less you like to be on the road,” she said, noting that her new job is closer to home, one of her reasons for taking the position. Rockford D.A.R.E. officer Dave Jenzhen joked that he doesn’t call Russell grandmom, but great-grandmom.
As she leaves the department, Russell jokes that the next oldest employee of the department is Chief Jones.