The recent tragic, unexpected death of Officer Natalie Corona angered me to the point that something had to be said about a recent incident involving four of my new officers.

Natalie Corona was 22 years old when she was shot and killed handling a routine call. She followed in her father’s footsteps fulfilling a life long dream of becoming a police officer. An article I was reading had a photograph attached to it of her father pinning her badge onto her uniform. He looked as proud as a father could be. Her smile brightened the room.

Did her age get her murdered? Was it the call she responded too? Was it a lack of training or vetting during her hiring process?

Illinois has a reputation for bad cops, bad governors and dirty politics. Murder in Chicago seems at times to be occurring by the hour. Cops too worried about doing their jobs. Academy classes are bulging at the seems and not for the right reasons. We’re losing cops at a faster rate then we can replace them.

In the past year I had four new officers publicly targeted by a former officer who was fired for more reasons than worth mentioning. He’s targeted everything that has to do with our community, the police department, elected officials, current officers and me.

Now he’s turned his attention on new recruits. Questioning everything from their age to their backgrounds to hiring practices. He recently posted photos of these new officers on his social media site; questioning their age, background and hiring practices.

What he failed to mention is that the State of Illinois has legislated strict hiring standards. Local municipalities have no influence on the hiring process. These laws were passed to prevent bias and discrimination. The process includes testing the candidate’s physical, cognitive and psychological abilities. An oral interview conducted by an independent board comprised of local citizens and a stringent background check.

Fourteen weeks in the Police Academy, passing the State Police Officer Certification Exam, a minimum of 12 weeks of field training with a two-year probationary period.

Our recent recruits come from a myriad of backgrounds. Former military, two immigrants, one from Eastern Europe another from India. An African American female who served in the Army and continues as a reservist. All are young smart and want to be police officers. They chose us and the process chose them.

As the photo of Officer Corona reflected her excitement with her new career, the photos of my new recruits came under attack. “They’re too young,” “Would you want them coming to help you?” Many more disparaging remarks began, a flurry of ignorant comments on social media.

Was the death of Officer Corona caused by her age? Does a bullet recognize the time you have on the job or your age? Do irresponsible comments make these new officers jobs any less dangerous?

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chief George Filenko, retired commander of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, current chief of police Village of Round Lake Park, Illinois; has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Discovery ID etc., public speaker, lecturer.