Just a week after being elected mayor of North Riverside, Hubert Hermanek Jr. announced a major shake-up in the command staff of the police department.
On April 17, Hermanek confirmed to the Landmark that after eight years as chief of police, Anthony Garvey is being replaced.
At a special meeting of the North Riverside Village Board on May 13, Hermanek will name Lane Niemann as chief and will tap Lt. Deborah Garcia as deputy chief. Garvey will remain part of the command staff at the rank of commander.
“I thought it was time to go in a new direction,” said Hermanek. “I’m looking forward to seeing what Lane’s ideas are to bring the police department in a new direction. He has a very good rapport with the officers and is a very intelligent person.”
Hermanek declined to get into specifics regarding the decision to oust Garvey as chief.
“This is not taking anything away from Tony,” Hermanek said. “We have one of the finest police departments in the western suburbs. Sometimes change is necessary.”
Elected mayor on April 9, Hermanek announced the changes to Garvey, Niemann and Garcia on April 12. Hermanek declined to comment on whether the election campaign had anything to do with his decision.
None of the North Riverside police command staff was involved in the political campaign. Garvey, Niemann and Garcia stayed out of the race, which was to have pitted former North Riverside police officer Rocco DeSantis against Hermanek.
But some officers within the department did take active political roles in the campaign. The president of the local police union, Detective
Sgt. Frank Schmalz, publicly supported DeSantis.
Another police officer, Sgt. Michael Champion, donated $1,000 to the political committee supporting DeSantis’ candidacy, according to campaign contribution filings on the Illinois Board of Elections website.
Niemann said he believes the police department should stay out of local politics, particularly officers who live in other towns.
“If someone lives in town, I can see where they would have more concerns and it would be a bigger issue for them,” said Niemann. “Other officers, I’d like them not to try to gain things through political influence.”
Niemann, 51, has the reputation of being a no-nonsense leader, but is also someone who is very outgoing and approachable. A 29-year veteran of the North Riverside Police Department, he has served in just about every capacity within the department and sees himself as a mentor for police officers.
“I’m kind of a no-fluff guy,” said Niemann. “I want to know the facts, and I’ll give you my honest opinion.”
Niemann was promoted to lieutenant in 2005, when Garvey was named chief. Garvey named Niemann deputy chief in 2009 upon the retirement of Tom Tauer. Niemann said he and Garvey have spoken about making the transition and that Garvey will perform well in his new role.
“He’s a true professional and only wants the best for the town,” said Niemann of Garvey. “I have no problem working with him in any fashion.”
Garvey said he’ll continue to be directly involved in the administration of the police department at his new rank.
“I look forward to taking on a different role,” said Garvey. “I’m proud of what I’ve done the last eight years as chief. I’m looking forward to continuing on with the good services we provide.”
Garvey said Hermanek had the right to make the change. He brushed off a question asking if he felt he got caught in the middle of a political battle.
“I don’t have a feel for the political end of it,” Garvey said. “There was a lot going on. But they’ve brought in a new administration and a new way of approaching things. I think it’s something they’ve had in mind, and now they’re going to implement the changes they’ve had in mind.”