Re­tir­ing high-rank­ing cop: CPD no longer try­ing to ‘im­pose our will’ but more like ‘guardians’

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRANK MAIN, STAFF RE­PORTER fmain@sun­ | @FrankMainN­ews

When An­thony Ric­cio be­came a Chicago cop in 1986, he says the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment was an “oc­cu­py­ing force.

“We would try to lock down the neigh­bor­hoods,” Ric­cio, who is re­tir­ing as first deputy su­per­in­ten­dent Aug. 1 af­ter nearly 34 years with the depart­ment, said in an in­ter­view Tues­day. “We’ve evolved now to the point where we’re more of guardians. We want to work with the com­mu­nity to make it safe. We’re no longer com­ing in there to im­pose our will.”

Ric­cio said he sym­pa­thizes with the protests that have grown out of Ge­orge Floyd’s killing by a Min­neapo­lis cop ear­lier this year, but he doesn’t un­der­stand the loot­ing and vi­o­lence that ac­com­pa­nied the demon­stra­tions.

He said the dou­ble whammy of COVID-19 and the Floyd killing have re­sulted in cops across the coun­try “be­ing a lit­tle cau­tious right now,” and that has em­bold­ened more peo­ple to carry guns in Chicago and else­where.

“It caused po­lice of­fi­cers to go back on their heels a lit­tle bit,” Ric­cio said. “One seg­ment [of so­ci­ety] has this anti-po­lice men­tal­ity go­ing right now. I think peo­ple see that as an op­por­tu­nity to carry guns and to com­mit more crimes. And that’s why we’ve seen this spike in shoot­ings and mur­ders.

“We can’t live in a city that ac­cepts mer­ci­less shoot­ers” will­ing to in­flict col­lat­eral dam­age on chil­dren, Ric­cio said. “We’ve got to just hit a re­set but­ton in the com­mu­nity.

We got to just say, ‘We’re go­ing to come in, and we’re go­ing to work with you to make your com­mu­nity safer so your kids can play in the park. And our kids can play in the park.’

“And we have to be able to sup­port the of­fi­cers and re­al­ize that these of­fi­cers are do­ing a good job, there’s no mal­ice in their hearts, they came on this job to work hard and to pro­tect the cit­i­zens of this city.”

Ric­cio said he sup­ports Mayor Lori Light­foot’s mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar in­vest­ment in com­mu­nity groups work­ing in the streets in an ef­fort to pre­vent shoot­ings in Chicago. But he said those or­ga­ni­za­tions must be held ac­count­able when their strate­gies don’t work.

In 2018, Ric­cio be­came first deputy su­per­in­ten­dent — then the depart­ment’s No. 2 job, be­fore the po­si­tion was split into op­er­a­tions and re­form jobs, with him over­see­ing op­er­a­tions. He pre­vi­ously ran the spe­cial­ized gang and drug units in the Or­ga­nized Crime Bureau and was a su­per­vi­sor of hun­dreds of de­tec­tives.

He said he views three former po­lice su­per­in­ten­dents as men­tors: Phil Cline for his fo­cus on gangs, guns and drugs; Garry Mc­Carthy for hold­ing com­man­ders ac­count­able at his some­times dra­co­nian “Com­pS­tat” meet­ings, and Ed­die

John­son for stress­ing com­mu­nity re­la­tions.

“I think you learn as much from the good lead­ers as you do from bad lead­ers,” Ric­cio said. “I’ve seen a lot of bad su­per­vi­sors over the course of my ca­reer, and I thought: ‘I never want to be like them.’ ”

He said the depart­ment needs to keep rolling out the re­forms spelled out by the Jus­tice Depart­ment af­ter it in­ves­ti­gated the 2014 fa­tal shoot­ing by a cop of Laquan McDon­ald and how Chicago cops were do­ing their jobs. A re­vised pol­icy on of­fi­cers’ use of force and new train­ing were good steps, ac­cord­ing to Ric­cio.

“Train­ing can’t be just, ‘You train in the academy, and then, for the next 34 years, we don’t up­date your train­ing,’ ” he said.

He said his worst days on the job were those when of­fi­cers died in the line of duty. He has got­ten choked up at cer­e­monies at which those of­fi­cers were hon­ored. While be­ing in­ter­viewed Tues­day at po­lice head­quar­ters, he strug­gled to keep his com­po­sure when the sub­ject came up.

“Those days are bad, hor­ri­ble,” he said.

Ric­cio said he’ll take at least a month off be­fore he de­cides what to do next — be­sides work­ing on his golf game.

One pos­si­bil­ity: be­com­ing the chief of a sub­ur­ban po­lice depart­ment.

“But I’m not op­posed to be­com­ing a snow­bird,” he said. “I don’t like win­ter any­more.”


Re­tir­ing First Deputy Supt. An­thony Ric­cio says that in his time with the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment, “We’ve evolved now to the point where we’re more of guardians. We want to work with the com­mu­nity to make it safe.”

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