North Riverside’s top detective has a new role after being named the police department’s commander in charge of investigations.

On June 19, the North Riverside Village Board amended the village code to create a second commander position within the police department and 15-year veteran Carlos Garcia was sworn in to take the post.

“It’s always been my goal to have two commanders,” said Police Chief Lane Niemann, one for patrol operations and one for investigations, so there are direct supervisors for the two sergeants of those divisions.

“This kind of balances out the chain of command in the department.”

The North Riverside Police Department’s command staff has consisted of Niemann, Deputy Chief Deborah Garcia and Commander Christian Ehrenberg since 2013, when Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. shook up the department’s supervisory staff.

At one time, the department’s command staff included three lieutenants, but that rank was eliminated around 2012.

Garcia is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who began his career in law enforcement in 1999 with the Brookfield Zoo Police Department, where he also served as an emergency medical technician.

He signed on with the North Riverside Police Department three years later and was subsequently assigned to the investigation divisions. In 2013, as part of a wave of changes in the department, Garcia was promoted to detective sergeant and has served as supervisor of that unit since that time.

Garcia, who is the husband of the deputy chief, is also assigned to the West Suburban Drug and Gang Enforcement task force; the WESTAF suburban task force, which investigates homicide and kidnapping cases; and the Major Case Assistance Team (MCAT), a coalition of suburban police agencies that provides investigative resources for important cases.

However, Garcia won’t be leaving his role as the department’s chief investigator or his memberships on those special task forces just yet, because the department at the moment finds itself a bit short-staffed, Niemann said.

While there is a new officer on the way at the police academy right now, Niemann learned recently that Officer Cathy Novotny, a 27-year veteran of the force would retire June 30.

So, in addition to his new supervisory duties as a commander, Garcia will also maintain his position as lead investigator. Officer Kyle Pinelli is also a member of the investigative team.

“He’ll keep those duties and add responsibilities,” Niemann said.

Among the new responsibilities on Garcia’s plate will be overseeing the records department and emergency dispatchers until the WC3 consolidated dispatch agency is operational.

“That will free up Christian [Ehrenberg] to focus on training and patrol operations,” Niemann said.