Ed Petrak | Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer

Now only one former police chief works at Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Last month, School Safety Liaison Lane Niemann, the former police chief of North Riverside, left his job after four years at the high school and was replaced by former Brookfield Police Chief Ed Petrak, who had been hired last August as a school security officer.

“Lane Niemann did an excellent job establishing the school safety liaison position at Riverside-Brookfield High School,” said RBHS District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis. “He did a great job building relationships with our faculty, staff, students and families. He really set the foundation for this position and we wish him the best of luck in retirement.”

Niemann was hired in 2018 as the first school safety liaison. Skinkis said Niemann had been talking of retiring for some time.

“Lane had talked about maybe retiring at the end of last year, and I told him that I needed some assistance with all the kids coming back and having a full student body,” Skinkis said. “We talked about him possibly going at the end of the semester, and he went a little longer just to help get through some transitions, but I think he was looking not to be working every day.”

When contacted by the Landmark to comment about his time at RBHS and his retirement, Niemann didn’t have much to say.

“Just that I feel Ed will do a great job,” Niemann said in a text message.

Petrak, 54, retired as the Brookfield police chief last year after a 32-year career, the final two years as police chief. For 20 years he was the Brookfield Police Department’s liaison to local schools. He served as a juvenile officer for more than 20 years, was the DARE anti-drug program officer and started the Let’s Win anti-drug program at S.E. Gross Middle School.

“I’m excited,” Petrak said of this new position. “It’s a new learning opportunity for me. It’s something I’m comfortable with.”

Petrak began his new role on Feb. 7 after being sworn in as an auxiliary police officer on Feb. 4. In his new role Petrak will carry a gun, as did Niemann. His salary is $48,000 annually, prorated for the remainder of the school year

“It happened pretty quickly,” Petrak said.

Skinkis said that Petrak was an easy choice to replace Niemann.

“The building administration and I have worked closely with Ed when he was a police chief and he worked in our security staff this first semester,” Skinkis said.

Since Petrak knows Niemann well and worked at RBHS for six months as security officer it has been a smooth transition for him.

“Just being part of building security, Lane would work directly with us so [we] would talk every day about different things,” Petrak told the Landmark.

Petrak said he views his job as one of building relationships with students and their families.

“It’s getting to know and help kids and families, problem solve and work in the best interests of kids here,” Petrak said.

Petrak said that he enjoys the atmosphere at RBHS.

“I’ve enjoyed the energy in the building, positive energy, kindness,” Petrak said. 

Although Petrak grew up in Riverside, he did not attend RBHS. His father insisted on sending him to a Catholic school, so he attended Quigley South in Chicago.

“I’m happy to finally be Bulldog,” Petrak said.