Riverside Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley (second from right) promoted police officers (from left) Sgt. Brian Greenenwald and Deputy Police Chief Frank Lara and Commander Leo Kotor to their new posts last month. | PROVIDED

In the wake of the retirements of the police department’s top two command staffers earlier this year and the reorganization of the police and fire department into a single Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management, Director Matthew Buckley announced three key promotions at a ceremony held outside of the Riverside Township Hall on Sept. 2.

Buckley, who previously served as the village’s fire chief and assumed the role of director of public safety in May, said the promotions became effective Aug. 3. 

In addition to the three police officers who were ceremoniously sworn in on Sept. 2, Village Clerk Cathy Haley also swore in three firefighters, who received promotions to command positions back in January.

“This sets the course for both [the police and fire] departments,” said Buckley of the promotions.

Buckley tapped Lt. Frank Lara, a 34-year veteran of the Riverside Police Department, as the deputy police chief. He previously served as the department’s operations lieutenant and before that was detective sergeant.

“He was the clear choice for moving into that position [as deputy chief] due to his experience and temperament,” Buckley said.

Lara will take on additional administrative duties, such as scheduling and payroll, but, said Buckley, will continue to respond to street incidents when appropriate, which is necessary for a small department, especially one that is short-handed like Riverside’s is at the moment.

“I’ve always said the street comes first,” said Buckley.

With the retirement of Sgt. Frank Pontrelli on Aug. 21, the Riverside police department is effectively down four officers, due to the retirements of Chief Thomas Weitzel and Deputy Chief William Gutschick this summer and the continued disability leave of Sgt. John Cairo, who has been out since sustaining severe injuries when a vehicle fleeing from police in Brookfield crashed into his squad car about two years ago.

Two new officers are in field training right now, Buckley said.

In addition to Lara, Buckley promoted Detective Sgt. Leo Kotor to commander, a rank Riverside police have not used since 2006. Kotor had been at the top of the department’s promotions list for lieutenant.

One of the reasons for promoting Kotor to commander, said Buckley, is that it places Kotor on straight salary and out of the police collective bargaining unit, meaning he no longer qualifies for overtime pay.

“He will oversee patrol and investigations,” Buckley said of Kotor, who has been on the force for 25 years.

 Buckley also announced the promotion of Officer Brian Greenenwald, who has been a member of the department for 14 years, to sergeant.

Greenenwald, who was the department’s first-ever drug recognition expert, has consistently been the department’s top DUI enforcement officer. He has worked the midnight shift since the department went to permanent shifts in 2011. 

Although his rank was officer-in-charge (the equivalent of corporal), Greenenwald has supervised the midnight shift since Cairo’s injury placed him on long-term disability.

The firefighters who were promoted in January but sworn in during the public ceremony on Sept. 2 were Deputy Fire Chief Jim Mulligan, Battalion Chief Ray Williamson and Battalion Chief Dan Tabb, who also serves as the village’s director of public works.