Inside the Tollway
Illinois Tollway Dispatch Manager Craig Lundt not only headed back to college this year for advanced public safety management training, he finished at the top of his class.
His classmates at Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety selected him as the winner of the Franklin M. Kreml Leadership Award, which goes to the student who best displays “the dedication, devotion, ethics, sense of justice, and other attributes that exemplify the kind of leadership” needed in law enforcement, according to a statement from the university.
Lundt, who has worked in public safety for 34 years—including the last 5 years with the Tollway—said he was especially pleased to earn the honor because he was chosen by fellow professionals, including police chiefs and other law enforcement leaders, who participated in the 10-week Staff and Command program.
“These are accomplished professionals and I was honored that they respected the work I did there,” said Lundt, 54, who is the first Tollway manager to go through the program. “This was a good chance to represent the Tollway in a positive way.”
The School of Police Staff and Command provides upper-level college instruction related to topics that include leadership, employee relations, organizational behavior, applied statistics, planning and policy development, and budgeting.
Students tackle not only classroom discussions and work, but have written examinations, projects, presentations and quizzes, as well as a staff study paper. Completing the course earns students a total of six units of undergraduate credit from Northwestern University.
“It was intense. With statistics, it felt like we had a semester crammed into three days,” Lundt said. “But it’s well-worth the time and effort.”
Lundt jumped at the chance to go—both to advance his skills and to make sure he and his team were following the most up-to-date practices in processing and handling emergency responses and other calls for service.
“It’s part of our philosophy here that we want to continue our advancement and keep up with industry standards,” said Lundt, who leads a team of more than 20 call takers and telecommunicators. “Nothing is static in our field, everything keeps changing and a program like this helps us stay current with the best practices in this industry.”
Tollway telecommunicators and call takers are on-duty around the clock to handle all 911 emergency calls on the Tollway system and *999 calls for roadside assistance. They dispatch Illinois State Police troopers and Tollway maintenance staff to incident scenes and to other locations where drivers need help.
“We’re pleased that Craig was recognized for his outstanding work at Northwestern University, given the skill and dedication that he displays at the Illinois Tollway in managing a vital part of our emergency response system,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez. “We’re always encouraging our staff to continue their professional training because we believe that advancement helps us provide better service to our customers.”
The Center for Public Safety was established at Northwestern University in 1936 with the specific goal of expanding university-based education and training for the law enforcement community. More recently, the Center started providing a variety of courses and programs in the area of police training, management training and executive development.
This program, which was implemented by the Center for Public Safety in 1983, has graduated over 25,000 students both nationally and internationally.
More students will be enrolling in the program from the Tollway; Lundt plans to send all three supervisors on his team to take the course.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to stay at the leading edge of our field,” he said.