CHARLES A. GRUBER — 1947-2021
QUINCY — Tony Cameron remembers Charles “Chuck” Gruber as someone who wasn’t afraid to shake up the Quincy Police Department.
Cameron, also a former Adams County State’s Attorney, today has his own private practice in Quincy. He was the attorney for the City of Quincy when Gruber came from Addison, Ill., to become the police chief in 1976. He was the youngest police chief in the United States at the time of his appointment.
“There were some officers who were hanging on, maybe not doing police work, or maybe they weren’t working in the area they were assigned to because they got comfortable elsewhere,” Cameron said Friday.
“(Gruber) basically gave the ones who had a future a chance to prove that they had a future, and he made it a good idea for the other ones to get into another line of work. He wasn’t subtle about it, but he also wasn’t cruel about it. He had a lot of pushback. He wasn’t from here, and it’s hard to do anything here when you’re not from here. He handled that pretty well.”
Gruber spent more than four decades in law enforcement, starting as an officer in Addison after serving in the Marine Corps from 1964 to 1968. He left Quincy in 1987 to become the police chief in Shreveport, La.
His time in Shreveport was not without controversy. The New York Times reported in March 1987 that he ruffled a few feathers and stirred up his department, instituting new rules and describing some members of the force as “lazy, lethargic no-accounts.”
Gruber took over as the police chief in Elgin in 1990, staying there until he retired in 1998. He also started his own private consulting company to review, evaluate and problem solve law enforcement issues. He took his final job as a chief in South Barrington, working there from 1999 to 2008.
Former Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda told the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Ill., that Gruber “was definitely ahead of his time” when it came to community policing and working to solve problems rather than only responding to incidents.
Gruber later investigated allegations of police abuse for the U.S. Department of Justice, working with troubled departments from California to the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was a former president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and a former Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, awarded by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Cameron remembers how Gruber elevated the role of patrol officers during his time in Quincy.
“There always sort of a desire for most young officers to get out of blue (uniforms) and into civvies, but (Gruber) emphasized how important their first job was and how well they had to be trained.” Cameron said. “He also made the (city) council understand that the training budget was sacrosanct. He believed policemen were only as good as their training.
“He had that little adventure in Louisiana, but he did a really good job in Elgin, and then he took over a sleepy little suburb and made some improvements there. Chuck had an interesting life.”
Gruber’s visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 2, at Laird Funeral Home in Elgin. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 3 at St. Patrick Church in St. Charles.
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