By Bob Uphues
The retirement of North Riverside Police Chief Lane Niemann at the end November set in motion a series of promotions that has altered the command structure of the department and reflects the priorities of the new chief, Deborah Garcia, the village's first female top cop.
"Society is changing and growing," said Garcia, who is in her 30th year as a North Riverside police officer and for the past four-plus years has served as deputy chief. "Police have to change, too."
Garcia and other top police officers officially were sworn into their new positions at the North Riverside Village Board's Dec. 11 meeting.
The new chief said the changes she's making will help North Riverside police respond to the public's growing call for more information.
"I think society is demanding transparency. I get it," Garcia said. "Modern technology and things like Facebook and Twitter are really important to the public. Part of the goal is to become more accessible to the community through modern technology.
"The public demands to know what's going on."
One change in particular, said Garcia, will be a more visible presence at Komarek School, where Officer Maegan Ehrenberg will make daily visits in order to create stronger bonds between police, parents and students.
"School is the No. 1 priority," Garcia said. "I want a face with the police department they can reach out to."
In addition to Garcia, who took over the chief's office on Dec. 1, two men were appointed as deputy police chiefs – another first for the village.
Christian Ehrenberg and Carlos Garcia, both of whom previously held the rank of commander, will share duties as co-deputy chiefs. Meanwhile, Sgt. Dion Bobo assumed the rank of commander.
Deborah Garcia said that Carlos Garcia, her husband for more than decade, will supervise field operations of the department, directing the patrol division, investigations and records.
Niemann effectively set the stage for the new dual-deputy arrangement when he promoted Carlos Garcia to commander in June.
At the time, Niemann said a second commander "balances out the chain of command in the department."
Carlos Garcia joined the North Riverside Police Department in 2002 from the Brookfield Zoo Police Department, which has served as a training ground for many top police officers in the area, including Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, Lyons Deputy Police Chief Matthew Buckley and former North Riverside Police Chief Anthony Garvey.
Garcia became a police officer after serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Carlos Garcia's military training will be a benefit in his role directing operations, said the chief.
"He's very good at the people end of it," she said.
As far as Deborah Garcia directly overseeing her husband, both said they have been able to successfully separate work life from their relationship as husband and wife.
Most recently Carlos Garcia has served as the department's principal detective, focusing most of his attention on investigations, while Deborah Garcia has been more involved with patrol operations.
"We've worked together throughout my career, and it's never been a problem," Carlos Garcia said. "She was in patrol and I was in investigations, so we kind of veered in two directions."
Deborah Garcia said that had she retained her maiden name, most people working with the department would not even know the two were related.
"Both of us are very professional," she said. "Honestly, I think our work ethic and reputations speak for themselves."
Sgt. Kyle Pinelli, who was promoted to that rank in November, will assume the role of chief investigator. William Cinkay, who was promoted to sergeant on Dec. 11, will assume supervision of the midnight patrol shift.
Ehrenberg, who was promoted to commander in 2013, will focus his efforts on administrative support systems and oversee the implementation of the West Suburban Consolidated Communications (WC3) central dispatch center, which will be located inside the North Riverside police station.
He will also assist the chief with budgeting and will handle payroll. Ehrenberg has been with the North Riverside Police Department for 22 years.
Finally, Sgt. Dion Bobo, who began his career with the North Riverside Police Department on the same day as Deborah Garcia, assumes the role of commander. He will serve as the direct supervisor of the department's patrol sergeants and will be in charge of scheduling and mandatory training. He will remain the head of the juvenile division and oversee court records.