Pritzker honors Illinois State Police on 100th anniversary

Illinois State Police park vehicles outside the Capitol and salute as Gov. Pritzker celebrates...
Illinois State Police park vehicles outside the Capitol and salute as Gov. Pritzker celebrates their centennial.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 8:12 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. JB Pritzker honored the hundredth anniversary of the Illinois State Police in Springfield Tuesday.

State troopers lined up outside their vehicles in front of the state capitol with lights flashing and a drone zooming above. Pritzker joined ISP Director Brendan Kelly to shake hands with each of the troopers.

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks with an Illinois State Trooper.
Gov. JB Pritzker speaks with an Illinois State Trooper.(Mike Miletich)

The governor also issued a proclamation recognizing April 1, 2022 - April 1, 2023 as the Year of Illinois State Police. Pritzker says this can help remind people of the work state police do each day to keep everyone safe and free.

“Life as a first responder includes grueling moments, wrenching moments, that challenge you to remember why you chose service,” Pritzker said. “But for every moment that brings challenges for the men and women of ISP, there are countless more that give deep meaning to your commitment.”

Pritzker also noted that he helped ISP hire hundreds of troopers over the past three years. His Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal includes $18.6 million to help graduate three more cadet classes, for a total of 300 new troopers.

While many local police departments have struggled to recruit and retain officers, state police continue to bring in new cadets each year. Kelly explained the way the public feels and interacts with law enforcement has ebbed and flowed throughout history. However, he hopes things are improving so more people will become more interested in becoming officers.

“I believe we’re at a point where the respect for law enforcement and the desire to make sure that the role of law enforcement is strong and that it is within the expectations of the public is moving in a positive direction,” Kelly said.

Pritzker said troopers will shape the next chapter of the organization with courage, integrity, service, and pride.

Gov. JB Pritzker signs a proclamation recognizing the Year of Illinois State Police from April...
Gov. JB Pritzker signs a proclamation recognizing the Year of Illinois State Police from April 1, 2022-April 1, 2023.(Mike Miletich)

The governor also honored Captain Donald Norton who served with ISP for 30 years in the Division of Criminal Investigation and Division of Narcotic Control. Pritzker explained Norton was the District Commander for District 3, now recognized as District Chicago. Norton previously received the Medal of Honor for his service.

Although, Norton stayed active during retirement. He has provided military guidon flags to every cadet and recruitment class over the past several years. Pritzker noted Captain Norton also developed flags for ISP leadership that will be encased during a ceremony Friday at the Bank of Springfield Center.

“A veteran of the Korean War and the US Department of Justice, Captain Norton has spent more than 50 years in service of his community, his state, and to his country. He is among the very best of Illinois,” Pritzker said.

The governor presented Norton with the ISP Achievement Medal during the press conference Tuesday. While Pritzker wanted to recognize the former ISP leader, Norton lauded Pritzker’s efforts.

“Thank you for what you’ve done for the state and for our department,” Norton said. “The way that you showed up for all of the line of duty deaths, four of them right in a row, that’s a tremendous, emotional thing that you did. Thank you for what you’re doing with the director and what you do for the department.”

The State Police will be honored during several events this week to recognize the centennial. The Pritzker Administration says the Illinois State Police flag will also be on display above the Capitol dome during the month of April.

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