While it’s still not crystal clear why former Police Chief Steven Stelter was forced out in Brookfield, Village Manager Keith Sbiral provided some insight on Dec. 14, just prior James Episcopo being sworn in as the village’s new chief of police.
With changes in policing nationally and changes in how police respond to community issues, said Sbiral, “it became clear we needed a chief that knows our unique needs.”
A longtime resident of Brookfield who says he takes the safety of every resident and visitor to the village “personally,” Episcopo is low-key and responsive at the same time.
Saying he was “humbled” to be named chief, Episcopo will bring a villager’s eyes to the operation of the police department. He is charged with protecting the safety of his neighbors.
When Sbiral officially announced his choice as chief at Monday night’s village board meeting, the packed audience gave Episcopo a rousing standing ovation (as well as a toaster oven to replace the broken one at the PD).
They also gave a standing ovation to the new deputy chief. Edward Petrak, whom Episcopo called “my best friend” — is another low-key but professional leader who will serve the department well in the coming years.
One thing to note: While Stelter may not have fit in ultimately with the direction Sbiral wanted, he ought to be given credit for nurturing his officers and creating an environment where professional command staff are able to step in with the full confidence of the administration and community.