A tribute to Chief Russell B. Laine

By Chief Gary Schira (Retired)

Bloomingdale PD & Batavia PD
ILACP Past President (1997)

Printed in Command magazine, May 2021

Photo caption: ILACP past presidents Russell Laine (left), John Millner and Gary Schira discuss ILACP accomplishments for a video taped in January 2016 in Springfield. 

Not many law enforcement executives have had the illustrious career of Russ Laine, yet display such humility.  For those that don’t know, let me highlight some of his life and professional achievements.

  • Army veteran, Specialist 4 Medic in the front lines in Vietnam (1970-71); awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars
  • Bachelor’s degree from Aurora College and a JD degree from John Marshall Law School, passing the Illinois bar in 1992.
  • 42 years in law enforcement starting as a police officer in Streamwood in 1976, then a police officer in Bartlett from 1977-82, including Acting Chief of Police in 1981.
  • Chief of Police in Edgerton, Wisconsin, from 1982-1985 and then Chief of Police in Algonquin  from 1985-2015, and later as Chief of Police in Fox Lake 
  • Elected 4th VP of ILACP in 1996 and served as President of ILACP in 2000.
  • Appointed as the ILACP Parliamentarian 15 years ago and just now stepping down (in 2021), having been asked by every ILACP president in each of those years.
  • Served as General Chair of the State Association of Chiefs of Police (SACOP) Division of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
  • Elected VP of IACP in 2000 and served as IACP President, 2008-09
  • Chair of IACP Past Presidents Committee
  • Co-chair of the ILACP Ethics Committee
  • Parliamentarian for both IACP and ILACP
  • Actively involved in Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run from 1989 to the present, receiving both the Flame of Hope and Lifetime Achievement Award and serving on the Illinois Board of Special Olympics, the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run Council and the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Executive Council.

I’ve had the pleasure of being a close friend of Russ for almost 40 years, and I’ve never ever heard him come close to either boasting about anything he has accomplished or feeling he was better than anyone else. Quite simply, I have never met anyone as humble as Russ!  He always has a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone.  

Friendly, approachable, gentlemanly, soft spoken, genuine, a great listener, he has time for anybody no matter how busy he may be, always ready to give solid advice and counsel and a mentor to so many through the years.

Giving medals to the Special Olympics athletes and in return receiving their unconditional love and heartfelt hugs converted Russ to be ardent lifetime supporter of Special Olympics. The athletes and the Special Olympics Global Messengers hold a special place in Russ’ heart.

If asked what was the most rewarding in his 42-year law enforcement career, Russ would tell you, aside from his time devoted to the Special Olympics, it was seeing people he worked with grow not just professionally, but also as individuals.  Isn’t that the epitome of a great leader—caring more about the people you work with than yourself?

Russ, you indeed touched the lives of so many in your humble way.  More than you’ll ever know!  

Even though your professional career may be over, our friendship will continue.  We have many more adventures ahead and foods to indulge in! May God bless you, my friend, and give you comfort in the days ahead. 

The ride is not over!

[Note: Laine was enduring lung failure at the time this was published, and he died a few months later, on August 6, 2021]