This past week I learned about some of my closest colleagues’ retirements or pending retirements, and in one case, about the retirement of a police commander who has the respect of everyone in the west suburban area.
Brookfield Police Chief James Episcopo announced his retirement, as did North Riverside Police Chief Deborah Garcia, North Riverside Police Commander Dion Bobo, and LaGrange Park Police Chief Edward Rompa.
Each of these fine individuals are law enforcement professionals who were hired the same time as me, or closely thereafter.
I wanted the Landmark readership to know that we are definitely losing some excellent police professionals who are compassionate and kindhearted. They always put their residents first in the communities they served and strived to better their respective police agencies during their tenure.
I “grew up” with each of these special police leaders. When Jim Episcopo was appointed Brookfield police chief, he would call me to seek advice and I was honored to do so. I have known Jim for a long time and was very pleased to see him appointed police chief.
When Deborah Garcia was appointed police chief, I was thrilled about her promotion. It is very difficult to rise in a police department to any rank as a female officer, let alone police chief. Chief Garcia broke many barriers and always garnered the respect of her peers.
Commander Dion Bobo is just an all-around great guy and we will miss his smile and laughter. I used to work the street with Dion and he also had to overcome many obstacles. Commander Bobo was one of the first African-American police officers in the entire west suburban area. I used to work the midnight shift when he was working in North Riverside and we would talk often. His position of commander was quite an accomplishment and well-deserved.
Chief Ed Rompa is also a close friend and a true professional. When Ed took over as police chief of LaGrange Park, we immediately met to share our knowledge of how we could better our departments. Chief Rompa always put his residents first and tried to obtain the best equipment and training for his officers that were available.
We are losing much institutional knowledge with the retirement of these remarkable officers. I congratulate them and will truly miss them, as I had dealings with these individuals at least once a week for the past 20 plus years.
New incoming Chief Ed Petrak of the Brookfield Police Department is most deserving of the top spot. I have worked with Ed on many occasions on various issues and can assure Brookfield residents that he is well respected by every top police administrator in the entire western suburbs.
Ed will transition into his new position seamlessly and will definitely enhance not only the image, but the day-to-day operations of Brookfield Police Department.
While the North Riverside and La Grange Park chiefs have not yet been named (as of April 25), when the announcement is made, my officers and I will assist them in any way we can.
In this day and age, mutual aid is not just something we agree to but something we must do. Sharing police services, training, equipment and consolidated dispatch is absolutely beneficial to every resident as well as to our police officers. I pledge to work with the new leadership in all these communities to ensure that we deliver the best police services regionally to our individual municipalities.
Jim, Debbie, Dion and Ed, thank you for your service and guidance that you gave me over the years. Chief Petrak, I look forward to working with you in the future and you always have my full support.
Thomas Weitzel, police chief