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Chicago top cop cleans house

By Fran Spielman
The Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — The career FBI agent chosen by Mayor Daley to restore public confidence in the Police Department delivered on his promise of change Friday in a way that both stunned and delighted the rank and file.

Police Supt. Jody Weis accepted the resignations of three of his top deputies and replaced two of them by dipping down into the ranks of district commanders.

"They're in the trenches every day. They're working with the police officers. They feel their pain. They know what affects them. But, they also know what affects the community" Weis said.

Harrison District Cmdr. James Jackson, 50, will be Weis' No. 2 man as first deputy superintendent. He is African-American and a 23-year veteran who commands one of the highest-crime districts in Chicago.

Marquette District Cmdr. Beatrice Cuello, 51, a Hispanic, becomes the first woman to head the all-important Bureau of Patrol.

"I have six brothers, so I've had very good training. I'm the only female in the family. So, I think I'm up to the challenge," she said.

Rounding out Weis' rainbow management team are Deputy Chief Michael Shields, 44, who will serve as deputy superintendent of the Bureau of Strategic Deployment, and Area 4 Detective Cmdr. Steve Peterson, 58, who will run the Bureau of Investigative Services. Shields is black. Peterson is white.

As promised, Weis also created a new Bureau of Professional Standards and chose former FBI colleague Peter Brust, 51, to run it. The idea is to put one person in charge of all things that impact police "culture" -- from general orders, training and Internal Affairs to field monitoring and audits.

In cleaning house, Weis accepted the resignations of three deputies with a century of experience among them: Hiram Grau, Charles Williams and John Risley.

The decision to dip down into the district commander ranks was both unusual and calculated.

"I wanted to bring in some fresh faces, some fresh ideas. I wanted to show that, if you do a good job, you're gonna move up in this organization," Weis said.

Jackson said he was "shocked" by the opportunity to leapfrog over higher-ranking colleagues.

Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue said he expected Weis to clean house, but "these changes are a little surprising. ... He's apparently going to individuals who had less time . . . than those promoted to these positions in the past."

Rank-and-file officers could not have been more delighted. It showed them that promotions are possible.

"It looks like he's putting the right people on the right seats in the bus," said Harrison District Lt. John Andrews.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Sun Times

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