Law Enforcement

Forest Preserves' Law Enforcement Department staff with Toni Preckwinkle and Arnold Randall

The Forest Preserves of Cook County Law Enforcement Department serves and protects people visiting the preserves and protects the Forest Preserves’ natural lands and property by upholding and enforcing all state, county and Forest Preserves laws and ordinances. Forest Preserves officers perform a dual role: Both the conventional duties of a police officer and tasks and duties performed by conservation officers.

On this Page:

Contact Forest Preserves Law Enforcement

Report public safety issues by calling our non-emergency number: 708-771-1001. Always call 911 in an emergency.

Our Work

The Law Enforcement Department protects the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the people who visit this treasured asset, while also contributing to the preservation and conservation of these important natural areas as a lasting legacy for future generations. 

Forest Preserves police are sworn officers whose public safety work is focused on the nearly 70,000 acres of forest preserves land spread widely across Cook County. The Law Enforcement Department operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police officers are deployed on three shifts a day, respond to emergency calls and regularly patrol the preserves. When required, their expertise is used to conduct search and rescue operations in our woodlands, wetlands, waterways and forests.

For their role as a kind of “park ranger,” Forest Preserves police have received specialized training in conservation and ecology from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They perform conservation tasks like checking for fishing licenses, and help protect habitat and wildlife, including rare and endangered species, from threats that range from poaching to illegal dumping. They also prevent poaching of archaeological artifacts to maintain Cook County’s important cultural heritage.  

In addition to traditional patrols in marked police vehicles, Forest Preserves officers conduct thousands of high-visibility patrols in the preserves annually, on and off the trails, on foot, bicycle, boat, ATV and through other methods. These patrols both help protect the land and help Forest Preserves police fulfill their role as ambassadors to the public.

Mission & Vision

Mission Statement

With a commitment to personal and professional excellence, we will accept the special stewardship entrusted to us to protect and preserve the natural splendor of the forests of Cook County for current and future generations. We will provide the best possible police protection, serve with honor and integrity, and treat every person with respect, dignity and compassion. We will strive each day to make all Forest Preserves of Cook County properties safe and inviting havens to be enjoyed for recreation, pleasure and education.

10 Shared Principles

The Forest Preserves endorses the 10 Shared Principles of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois NAACP, which were created to bridge a gap between law enforcement and communities of color they serve.

Policy Manual

As part of the Forest Preserves’ mission to provide protection to all staff and visitors as well as safeguard its properties and amenities, a Policy Manual was developed to provide policies and clear guidelines for Law Enforcement Department personnel. The Policy Manual is available to the public to ensure transparency and accessibility of materials.

Please note: Additional polices will be added as they are updated and available.

Staying Safe in the Forest Preserves

The safety of our visitors is the Law Enforcement Department’s highest priority. Here are some tips for staying safe in the Forest Preserves:

  • Visit with a friend or let someone know where you will be.
  • Carry your phone with you and save the Forest Preserves Police non-emergency number (708-771-1000) in your phone. Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep tabs on your location with trail intersections, parking lots or other landmarks.
  • Always lock your car and don’t leave valuables inside.

Learn how to stay safe from sunburn, mosquitos and poison ivy too.

Rules & Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the rules and ordinances that protect Forest Preserves visitors, natural areas and wildlife:

Trail Watch Volunteer Program

The Law Enforcement Department collaborates with the Forest Preserves’ Volunteer Resources team on the Trail Watch volunteer program. Trail Watch volunteers help law enforcement respond to community needs and improve community safety by acting as a visible presence that makes the Forest Preserves more welcoming and inviting to all visitors.

Give Feedback or File a Formal Complaint

The Forest Preserves of Cook County Department of Law Enforcement is committed to treating all our visitors with dignity and respect. We will serve with honor and integrity and protect all people who visit the preserves.

We appreciate when a visitor takes the time to recognize the efforts of one of our officers, but we also understand that there may be times when we did not live up to our standards. We will investigate all formal complaints made about any member of the Forest Preserves Department of Law Enforcement.

Send Positive or Negative Feedback

To compliment the performance of a Forest Preserves police officer or let us know how we can improve, please use one of the following options:

  • Email
  • Call 708-771-1000 and ask to speak to a sergeant or commander.
  • Mail a letter to:
    Police Feedback
    1 Aloha Ln
    Hinsdale, IL 60523

Your feedback will be shared with the officer, their supervisor and the chief of police.

File a Formal Complaint Against an Officer

The Forest Preserves Department of Law Enforcement takes all complaints against our employees seriously, and we investigate all complaints regarding officers and other employees to determine the validity of the complaint.

Filing an official complaint against a Forest Preserves officer or employee means submitting a sworn affidavit: A signed, written statement that documents the facts of the incident and identifies any potential witnesses or other evidence.

To begin the formal complaint process, please complete the Formal Complaint Form (PDF) and submit the completed form using either of these methods:

Having trouble completing the form or have questions about the process before proceeding? Please email or call 708-771-1000 and ask to speak to a sergeant or commander.

Please note: Anyone who knowingly files a false sworn affidavit against a police officer or other employee of the department may be subject to criminal charges or even possibly a civil suit.

Investigating Formal Complaints

Once a complaint is filed, it will be forwarded to the chief of police who will then assign it for investigation. The chief of police will generate a letter to you, indicating the investigator assigned to the investigation and an Internal Affairs report number. You will be kept informed of the status of your complaint and the eventual outcome.

Generally, an investigation takes no longer than 30 days; however, the investigator may be given an extension if the chief of police agrees it is justified. If the complaint is sustained (found to be true), the officer may be disciplined at the discretion of the chief of police. This may include a verbal or written reprimand, a suspension without pay, or termination. 

Upon completion of the investigation, the department shall consider any recommended changes to our policies in addition to any action taken against the named employee(s). All complaints shall be investigated in a timely, fair, impartial, and consistent manner, maintaining the rights of all employees and complainants.

Please note: This process is guided by the Uniform Peace Officers’ Disciplinary Act (50 ILCS 725/). We cannot use this process to investigate complaints or grievances related to a traffic citation, ordinance violation, or arrest—these types of complaints must be argued in the appropriate court of law.