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Back to Archives | Back to May 2004 Contents 

In Memory of Chief Donald R. Derning, 1925-2004
IACP President, 1972-1973

We are saddened at the loss of Don Derning, a retired chief of police and past president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police who died February 25, 2004.

Chief D. R. Derning
Donald R. Derning
Winnetka, IL

Don Derning, a past president of the IACP, died January 25, 2004, in Evanston, Illinois. He was 78.

Chief Derning was born in Chicago and raised by his father and two older brothers. After serving in the army during World War II, he returned home at 22 to Winnetka, Illinois, and answered a classified ad to become a police officer for what he believed would be a short time. Instead, it was the beginning of a long and distinguished career in public service.

After five years, Don was appointed chief of the Winnetka Police Department, a position he held until his retirement in 1976 after 28 years of service. As chief he practiced a hands-on approach and strongly believed that the police were not "an army of occupation" but instead were civil police serving as an extension of the community. He earned the deep respect of officers and residents alike.

Chief Derning was an active participant in the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and served as its president. Encouraged and supported by his fellow Illinois chiefs, Don became the International Association of Chiefs of Police sergeant at arms, served as a vice president from 1966 to 1972, and as president from 1972 to 1973.

During his presidency, Chief Derning, mindful of the "need for the officers of the association to be aware of and respond to the needs of the general membership," ensured that every request made for IACP representation at gatherings was fulfilled. He also recognized the importance of the international membership and moved to have the International Relations Committee restructured and renamed the Advisory Committee on International Policy. During his service as president, the IACP applied for and received status as a resource agency for the United Nations, and Don met with his colleagues from Canada, Venezuela, and Brazil.

Private Sector Liaison
Because Chief Derning also believed in the value of a close professional relationship with the private sector, he developed a relationship with the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and the Central Station Alarm Association. This initiative helped establish the high level of interaction with the private sector that IACP enjoys today. In his remarks to the annual IACP conference in San Antonio, Texas, in 1973, he pointed out that the ongoing liaison with the private sector "is virtually unlimited and represents a truly potent weapon in our fight against crime."

Although Chief Derning retired from police service in 1976, he did not retire from public service. He went on to serve as a chairman of the Winnetka Police and Fire Commission. In 1996 Don was elected village trustee, an office he held for four years.

Derning Family
Chief Derning had a loving family who not only remember the joy of water-skiing and swimming during their summer vacations at the family cottage but also fondly recall gathering around campfires to listen to his "elaborate tales." One daughter said, "He always had wonderful stories; he was the rock that this family was built on." He is survived by his wife, Fern; three daughters (Denise Smith, April Delancy, and Dayle Nervig); one son (Don Derning Jr.); 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and two brothers, Jay Derning and Ed Derning.

In Remembrance
In his president's address at the 1973 IACP conference, Chief Derning said, "It is with a full and grateful heart that I express my deepest appreciation to you for the privilege of having served as your president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police." Now, it is with full and grateful hearts that we say it was our privilege to know him and to benefit from his distinguished service to the IACP and the profession. May he rest in peace.

Memorial donations may be made to Special Olympics, 605 E. Willow Street, Normal, IL 611761-2682.


From The Police Chief, vol. 71, no. 5, May 2004. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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