Talk to College of DuPage Police Department Patrol Sergeant Raul Valladares - for even just a few minutes - and you will instantly obtain a sense of his sincere passion to help others. Armed with an infectious smile, Valladares has earned a reputation for his positive attitude, willingness to listen and find solutions to ensure campus security.
“We aim to not only maintain a safe campus, but also to create an atmosphere of safety for students, faculty and staff,” he said. “Whether it’s patrolling in vehicles or on foot, we try to be very visible and approachable, sending a message that we are ready at a moment’s notice and that we are here to help. We want everyone to feel comfortable coming to us with concerns or questions. Students need to feel safe on campus so they can focus on their coursework and succeed.”
Every time I wear my uniform, I am representing not only myself, but also the police department and the College whether I am conducting specialized training or coaching student workers.
During his 10 years with the College, Valladares has held a variety of positions from patrol officer to detective and now sergeant, which have helped him face a host of issues ranging from minor traffic violations to large-scale financial fraud. He said it is critically important to understand that every day is a new day filled with both victories and challenges and crime can impact anyone. Valladares said he appreciates his colleagues’ ongoing commitment and the goodwill within the COD Police Department.
“Every time I wear my uniform, I am representing not only myself, but also the police department and the College whether I am conducting specialized training or coaching student workers,” he said. “As a representative of COD, I always put my best foot forward.”
One of his proudest moments came in 2018 when he was selected to supervise the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy (SLEA). Over the course of 14 weeks, he supervised the program, seeing 60 cadettes graduate and move forward to their careers as police officers.
“It was incredibly gratifying to have a direct impact on shaping new officers,” he said. “Everyone has different needs, desires and motivation and it was interesting getting to know the cadettes and discovering how to work with different personalities to bring out their best.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Valladares is a first-generation Mexican-American who was unsure of what career he wanted to pursue after graduating high school. He knew he didn’t want to obtain a typical 9-to-5 job in an office. A chance encounter with a relative who worked as an U.S. Army recruiter piqued his interest in joining the military.
He joined the Army and went on to serve his country around the globe for nearly eight years.
At that point, he was a family man with two young children and he didn’t want to continue to spend time away from home. He left the service and worked as a project manager for a construction company but found that he missed the structure and discipline of the military. Encouraged by his uncle, a Chicago police officer, Valladares started testing and got hired as an officer.
Seeking to further his education and expertise as well as to set a positive example for his children, Valladares enrolled in COD’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice 3+1 partnership program with Lewis University. The example he set worked. His daughter graduated from COD and is in her senior year at Loyola University with plans to attend law school. His son is currently taking general business classes at COD.
Proud of his work at COD, Valladares takes his role at the College and within the community very seriously. Valladares said balance is key.
“We can leave a positive impression on someone, especially someone who may have had negative experiences previously or bought in to the idea that police are bad,” he said. “If we can build trust and a rapport with students, it provides a great opportunity to give them a positive experience with law enforcement.”