Beck an­nounces com­mand staff shake-up

Sweep­ing changes at CPD prompted by re­struc­tur­ing

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAN­D - BY JEREMY GORNER

A day af­ter un­veil­ing a mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, in­terim Chicago po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Char­lie Beck an­nounced the big­gest shake-up in the depart­ment’s com­mand staff in years, mov­ing more than 30 peo­ple into new po­si­tions.

The sweep­ing changes were prompted by a re­or­ga­ni­za­tion that shifted hun­dreds of spe­cial­ized of­fi­cers and de­tec­tives to pa­trol districts to bet­ter com­bat vi­o­lence in the city’s neigh­bor­hoods. Beck’s plan also cre­ated a new of­fice of equal stature to carry polic­ing re­forms re­quired by a fed­eral con­sent de­cree.

On the crime-fight­ing end, much of the re­spon­si­bil­ity falls on a deputy chief in each of five ge­o­graph­i­cal ar­eas, as well as the com­man­ders in the city’s 22 districts.

But the sweep­ing change was not with­out hic­cups. The depart­ment in a news re­lease named Felipe Gar­cia the new com­man­der of the South Chicago District. But the de­ci­sion was re­scinded Fri­day af­ter re­porters be­gan ask­ing ques­tions about Gar­cia’s un­usual rise up the ranks.

As a rank-and-file of­fi­cer, he had been ap­pointed to then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s se­cu­rity de­tail. Later, he was pro­moted to com­man­der of the se­cu­rity team, skip­ping over the ranks of sergeant, lieu­tenant and cap­tain. When Emanuel left of­fice last May, he acted as the Po­lice Depart­ment’s li­ai­son to the city’s Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions — a com­man­der-level post.

Po­lice spokesman An­thony Guglielmi ear­lier Fri­day ac­knowl­edged that Beck had “grap­pled” with the de­ci­sion of giv­ing Gar­cia such a high-pro­file post, but ul­ti­mately felt “high con­fi­dence” in Gar­cia lead­ing a district in which shoot­ings jumped by more than 30% in 2019 — a year that oth­er­wise saw de­clines in vi­o­lence city­wide.

But by Fri­day night, Guglielmi said in a state­ment that Gar­cia would not be tak­ing the post. Beck ap­pointed Lt. Robert Ru­bio, a 25-year depart­ment vet­eran who headed a gang en­force­ment unit, to com­mand the district in­stead.

“Fol­low­ing a re­assess­ment by Com­mand Staff, Supt. Beck has de­cided to leave Cmdr. Gar­cia in his ca­pac­ity at OEMC,” Guglielmi wrote. “Cmdr. Gar­cia has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in these large-scale ac­ti­va­tions and he will con­tinue to serve the Depart­ment to en­sure the co­or­di­na­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion for joint op­er­a­tions at ma­jor events.”

Among other changes, Ernest Cato was named deputy chief of Area 4, one of the most vi­o­lent parts of the city that cov­ers the Ogden, Austin and Har­ri­son Districts on the West Side. The 29-year depart­ment vet­eran most re­cently served as a deputy chief over­see­ing pa­trol op­er­a­tions in nine districts that covered the North, North­west and West sides. He also once served as the com­man­der of the Austin District.

Eric Carter, a 27-year depart­ment vet­eran and a long­time mem­ber of the com­mand staff, was pro­moted to chief of the new Counter-ter­ror­ism and Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions bureau, over­see­ing SWAT, the bomb squad, the In­tel­li­gence Unit and joint task forces with the FBI. He will also be in charge of coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts at O’Hare and Mid­way air­ports and through­out the CTA “L” sys­tem.

Bren­dan Deeni­han was pro­moted to chief of de­tec­tives af­ter hold­ing the bureau’s No. 2 post in re­cent years. The 22-year depart­ment vet­eran will over­see, among other things, a new city­wide homi­cide de­tec­tive unit and de­tec­tives who in­ves­ti­gate fi­nan­cial crimes, auto thefts and ar­son. He will also be in charge of units that work with the fed­eral law en­force­ment and fo­cus on long-term gang, nar­cotic and gun­traf­fick­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Aside from Ru­bio’s ap­point­ment, Beck re­placed the com­man­ders in seven of the 22 districts.

One of those new com­man­ders, Ja­cob Alder­den of the Cen­tral District, which cov­ers the Loop and South Loop ar­eas, was among a group of of­fi­cers who re­ceived the city’s high­est hon­ors for hero­ism for their re­sponse to the 2018 shoot­ing at Mercy Hos­pi­tal & Med­i­cal Cen­ter that claimed the lives of Ta­mara O’Neal, an emer­gency room doc­tor; Dayna Less, a pharmacist; and Chicago po­lice Of­fi­cer Sa­muel Jimenez.

To carry out re­forms in the fall­out over the fa­tal po­lice shoot­ing of 17-year-old Laquan McDon­ald, Beck cre­ated the Of­fice of Con­sti­tu­tional Polic­ing and Re­form, and pro­moted Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Bar­bara West to its head, mak­ing her the high­es­trank­ing African Amer­i­can woman in the depart­ment’s his­tory.

Her No. 2 in charge will be James O’Donnell, a 33-year depart­ment vet­eran who most re­cently served as a deputy chief re­spond­ing to ma­jor in­ci­dents around the city. He pre­vi­ously worked as com­man­der of the Chicago Lawn District in Oc­to­ber 2014 when McDon­ald was shot 16 times by an of­fi­cer as the teen walked away from po­lice with a knife in his hand in the Southwest Side district.

O’Donnell, how­ever, was not im­pli­cated in any wrong­do­ing in in­ves­ti­ga­tions of of­fi­cers’ con­duct that night.

In a state­ment, Beck lauded O’Donnell’s ex­pe­ri­ence, say­ing in part that he has “in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge of de­part­men­tal pol­icy and street op­er­a­tions,” and his “un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to eth­i­cal polic­ing po­si­tions him to be a for­mi­da­ble leader.”

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