On March 11, Sergeant Margie Lill became the first female police officer in the history of the Lewis University Police Department (LUPD) to be promoted to sergeant. Lill, who has made a lifelong career in law enforcement, will take on more responsibilities as a sergeant with seven years of experience.
“I was excited and had so many things spinning through my head about leadership and what I want to do with my shift,” said Lill. “I like being a part of helping others become leaders and being a sergeant, female or not. I don’t like to look at my gender, because that has been a battle my whole career, being a female in law enforcement. I like to look at earning the position as encouraging other females to step up and take a role in leadership as well.”
To reach eligibility to apply for a sergeant position, Lill was Ill. certified as a police officer, completed a police academy program and demonstrated successful service as an LUPD officer. As a sergeant, Lill will provide direct supervision over the midnight shift of police officers and campus safety officials by ensuring teamwork and unity, stepping in when there are complaints and acting as leader for the team.
“Margie really made a name for herself early on. When she walks around on rounds people come up to her and want to talk to her,” said Deputy Chief of Police Officer Mike Zegadlo. “She has investigated some of our most significant incidents. It’s rare to find someone in law enforcement who is as exceptional on the law enforcement side and has the people, presentation and human communication skills Margie does.”
As sergeant, Lill aims to create more leaders from within the department by letting her team be up front. In addition to leading the midnight shift, Lill will continue to train new officers, instruct Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes and serve as a domestic violence specialist.
“Domestic and sexual violence is something I was trained in as soon as I started at the Elmhurst Police Department,” said Lill. “I saw a need for awareness and officers to learn a better approach to interview techniques. This is what I did; I continue to do this. I became a rape victim advocate to better understand how to help sexual assault survivors and how to communicate better. It is an unreported crime, both domestic and sexual assault. We, as a police department, need to make sure our students, faculty and staff know we are here for them. When you reach one person, that person reaches another, that’s the chain reaction; that’s what I am hoping for.”
Prior to working for LUPD, Lill started her career at age 21 at Elmhurst Police Department as a community service officer. Over the course of 10 years, Lill created a sexual assault awareness program for Elmhurst high school and college, assisted with DUI and drug roadblocks and aided in prostitution stings and booking procedures. Lill then worked as a police officer at Oakbrook Terrace for just over three years, handling patrols, investigations and the midnight shift. After taking time off for her family, Lill joined the Campton Hills Police Department, where she worked for two years, finally joining LUPD in February 2012 as the first outside hire for the department.
“I have memorable experiences all the time with students, doing walkthroughs at residence halls and chatting with students,” said Lill. “A student had reached back out to me after being gone for over a year. She shared with me how she has become successful and strong after a trying time that we dealt with together during a report. These are all memorable moments.”
LUPD sees more changes in its future, as restructuring will be needed as Police Chief James Montanari plans to retire later this year. There is also the possibility of the creation of another sergeant position and an administration position.