Quinn wants West Point grad to head state police

March 27, 2009 2:50:31 PM PDT
Jonathon Monken has an impressive resume- but no police experience, which has some questioning if he should lead the Illinois State Police.Monken, 29, was in the top 1-percent of his class at West Point. He commanded a platoon in Kosovo and was tank commander during two tours in Iraq. Those who know him say he's a natural born leader with a sterling resume.

Gov. Pat Quinn wants Monken to be the director of the state police, but some senators aren't sure he's a good fit.

"There's a wealth of experience out there I know I can tap into and that's what gives me the confidence to know I can do this job," said Jonathan Monken, Illinois State Police director.

Monken is a decorated Iraq war veteran who's led on the battlefield, but he has never been a cop.

"He knows what it takes to be in an occupying army, but not policing in a free America. Huge difference," said State Sen. John Millner, (R) Carol Stream.

State Senator John Millner is a former suburban police chief who applauds Monken's military service and credentials, but says he is not qualified to be running the state police, because he has no foundation in law enforcement.

"From shootings and killings with these kids - the backlog of DNA cases. There's a plethora of issues the state police deals with, and this person they're asking to be director hasn't worked in one area of these," said Sen. Millner.

Millner serves on the senate's executive appointments committee, and has already told Monken that he won't vote to confirm him.

Since his appointment was announced Sunday, Monken - described as a quick study - has been moving nonstop to understand the nearly 4,000 person department he's now commanding.

He's decided that he will not wear the state police uniform, will not go through basic cadet training, and acknowledges that while his task is daunting, integrity and transparency are the mantras of his new mission.

"Because I don't owe anybody any favors. I don't have any affiliations that I have to stick to. I can make all the decisions in the best interest of the Illinois State Police and the people of Illinois," said Monken.

Millner and several others on senate executive appointments committee have either expressed reservations about Monken's appointment, or have said outright that they'd vote no.

Democratic Senator Tony Munoz of Chicago is the chair and determines whether and when to call for a committee vote. He has not returned our calls.

Governor Quinn stands strongly behind his appointment and said Monken is the right man for the right job.