Eric Echevarria

It was the late 1990s, and Eric Echevarria, fresh off a four-year stint in the Marine Corps, was back in his hometown of Elgin, working at a packaging company and, in his free time, working out at the gym. There, he met a couple of guys who were Elgin police officers, and they encouraged the young veteran to consider a law enforcement career.

“I had never even thought about it,” said Echevarria. But that conversation sparked what has been a notable 20-year career at EPD for Echevarria, who is the lieutenant and watch commander in charge of the department’s afternoon shift. He directs four sergeants, 31 officers, and four community service officers responsible for maintaining Elgin’s public safety.

“It’s the biggest shift and also the busiest,” he said.

Elgin Police Department Lt. Eric Echevarria

Echevarria grew up on Elgin’s east side, the son of Puerto Rican parents who worked hard and expected the same from their children. As a kid, Echevarria attended Illinois Park School and Channing Elementary, and then Ellis Middle School before enrolling at Elgin High School.

“I was just an average kid. I didn’t play sports or do outside activities,” he said of his high school days. “I had a job at a body shop just down the street from school, so I would walk down there after classes.”

After he graduated from Elgin High School in 1993, Echevarria enlisted in the Marines. That led to a posting in Japan, among other spots, before his return to Elgin and that fateful discussion among the barbells.

Once he decided to pursue it, Echevarria discovered his knack for law enforcement. He placed in the top five of more than 400 applicants who tested for an opening. He was hired immediately and went off to the police academy. After that, he hit the streets as a patrol officer and was promoted to sergeant in 2015. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2019.

Along the way he earned his bachelor’s degree and is working toward a master’s in public administration. Echevarria is the first bilingual lieutenant in Elgin police history, and he has often served as a liaison for the department with the Latinx community.

“Having grown up in Elgin and to have followed this path has been great,” he said.

He’s the proud father of four children. He is married to the former Maribel Andino, who taught 1st grade at Sheridan Elementary School, now called Ronald D. O’Neal Elementary. They met when Echevarria came to her classroom as a guest community leader to read to her students!