Hillard Returns As Police Superintendent

UPDATED 03/02/11 4:40 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Supt. Terry Hillard is back in charge at the Chicago Police Department nearly eight years after he left the post, as the departure of Supt. Jody Weis draws mixed feelings.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Hillard arrived at Police Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave., around 9 a.m. Tuesday, to take the helm for the first time since the fall of 2003. He has stepped in as an interim replacement, after Weis stepped down at the end of the day Tuesday.

“I didn’t sleep last night,” Hillard said Tuesday morning as he returned. “It feels good; this is a dynamite department; a very dynamic department, and a department I love dearly.”

But Hillard has said repeatedly that he does not intend to resume the job permanently.

“No. N-O, no. No,” he said when asked if that might happen. “Read my lips. No.”

As one officer said Wednesday afternoon, “Welcome back, boss.” That seemed to be the general sentiment at Chicago Police Headquarters on Wednesday after Hillard returned to the helm of the department.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, Hillard’s first day as interim superintendent has been a busy one, getting reacquainted with the job he once held for five years.

“We need to move ahead,” Hillard said as he worked a packed schedule on Wednesday. “A lot of meetings, you know, getting briefed. And the cell phone is constantly ringing.”

Mayor Richard M. Daley has said he will reach out to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel about starting the process of having the Chicago Police Board launch a nationwide search for a new full-time superintendent.

“You transition for the sake of the citizens. You want to make sure there’s a good transition,” Daley said.

Hillard also said his focus would be on ensuring a smooth transition to a permanent replacement as superintendent.

“My job is to come in and make sure there’s a smooth, seamless transition and make sure that the neighborhoods are still kept safe and these men and women continue to do the job they’ve been doing,” Hillard said. “Morale, you know, we will address that issue as we go along.”

Low morale was often cited as a reason officers fought Weis’s leadership. Hillard had the respect of the department during his last stint as top cop and he apparently still does. So what would he say to the rank and file?

“I want them to know that, yep, it’s a new day. You’ve got somebody else that’s in the chair, but the program hasn’t changed,” Hillard said.

Daley had hoped Weis would stay on until May, when Daley himself will hand over the reins to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. But Weis decided to leave when his contract expired on Tuesday.

Daley said Wednesday that Weis was pursuing jobs in the private sector and had decided to leave.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

“This was going on for a couple weeks with him, he told me. He was undecided whether or not he wanted to stay, he had offers coming in and he just saw fit to do it. It was just a personal decision,” Daley said.

The mayor also refuted reports that Weis declined to stay on until the end of Daley’s term in office because he couldn’t get a written contract extension.

“No, no. It had nothing to do with that,” Daley said. “No, It didn’t matter.”

The mayor also said he alone decided to reappoint Hillard, without any involvement from Mayor-elect Emanuel.

Upon receiving the call from Daley on Tuesday, Hillard said he couldn’t turn down the request.

“I appreciate he gave me the chance in 1998, and we did it for five and a half years, and I left, and on his way out, he called on me again – and you never refuse the mayor,” he said.

Hillard’s duties started immediately. He said they included “a number of meetings; meeting with the command staff, and then try to meet with some of the middle management, and then hopefully within the next couple of days, I’ll start talking to rank and file and let them know there’s been a change. But we’ve got to move ahead – summer is coming ahead and we have to get ready.”

As for the impact he might make in the next couple of months, Hillard said: “You know, my job is just to get here and make sure they continue doing the things that they’re doing. There’s not going to be any major changes. Crime is down, and let’s hope it continues to go down.”

Hillard, a native of South Fulton, Tenn., moved to Chicago as a boy. He served in Vietnam with the U.S. Marine Corps, and entered the Chicago Police Training Academy in 1968.

After completing training, Hillard first became a patrol officer, then a gang crimes specialist, and he was shot twice in the line of duty, according to the History Makers.

He served as part of the mayoral security detail under Jane Byrne and Harold Washington, and was later promoted to a sergeant at the Intelligence Division, then commander of the Gresham District. He then became the first ever African-American chief of detectives, according to the History Makers.

Hillard was a lieutenant in the gang crimes and narcotics unit in 1998 when Mayor Daley appointed him as superintendent. He replaced Matt Rodriguez, who stepped down after five years after a Chicago Tribune report revealed he was close friends with a convicted felon.

Hillard retired in 2003, and was replaced by his first deputy superintendent, Phil Cline. Since 2004, Hillard has been one of the principals in the private security firm management and advisory firm Hillard Heintze LLC, which boasts offices in six U.S. cities and claims capabilities in the Middle East and in Central and South America.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

Cline, in turn, resigned in 2007, in the wake of a scandal sparked by Officer Anthony Abbate, who was caught on surveillance video brutally beating a female bartender half his size at a bar on West Belmont Avenue. Meanwhile, six officers from the later-disbanded Special Operations Section faced criminal charges in a separate scandal.

The worldwide outrage and scorn from the scandal led Mayor Daley to reach outside the city and pick Weis to replace Cline as superintendent. Immediately, Weis said he would not tolerate misconduct in the department.

But soon after Weis took over in 2008, he drew sharp criticism from rank-and-file officers, who felt he wasn’t on their side and said morale quickly dropped after he took office.

Among Weis’ most unpopular decisions among the rank-and-file was subjecting Officer Bill Cozzi to a new federal prosecution and prison time after the officer had already been convicted and sentenced to probation for beating a man in a wheelchair.

In September, hundreds of rank-and-file officers marched outside of Police Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave., demanding that Weis be let go.

But Weis always maintained that the streets were safer after he took over, and pointed out that homicides were at their lowest level in 45 years last year. He also had his supporters in City Hall.

“I think he was one of the best,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th). “Regardless of how people felt about him, the bottom line is results, and he produced results.”

As for Hillard, Beale hopes the interim superintendent will take the initiative and move more police to high crime districts – even though Hillard is only an interim appointee.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports

During the mayoral race, Emanuel and all the other major candidates said they would replace Weis.

On Tuesday, Emanuel praised Daley’s decision to name Hillard to the post. The mayor-elect has had praise for Hillard in recent days, and calls him effective in fighting crime.

Emanuel also thanked Weis for his service.

Hillard also made a point of congratulating Weis on a good job, although in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed published Wednesday, he took Weis to task over low department morale and for taking “all the good cops” out of patrol and putting them in “special sections and units.”

Weis did not discuss his decision to step down with reporters. But he released a statement: “I firmly believe it would be selfish of me to continue in this position as I actively seek new career opportunities. It is critical to have someone in place as soon as possible to prepare for the summer, our most challenging time of year.”

  • Dag Erickson

    In Chicago, the Police rank and file wants to run the Police chief ever since. They want a chief who supports the criminal acts of a few in the police force. They call it, watching my back. Now, I’ve heard in the news that Mayor elect Rahm Emanuel appear to politicize it by appointing the cousin of Michelle Obama as chief. The guy promoted by Chief Judy Wies and demoted for alleged incompetence on the job. Chief Judy Wies did a very good job as chief but criminals don’t like it.

    • thrilled

      Hey Dagwood, Shut up and go help Jody pack his ruck sack so he can get on the bus in time for supper.

      • Dag

        Hey thrilled…if I want any lip from you I’ll just rattle my zipper. Open wide!

  • Mary Mitchell

    I support the man of color !
    but now , we have to find a new
    white guy to blame for all the
    problems in our communities !
    I’m hoping the new supt allows
    our young people to go back
    to the robbing and killing that we
    are accostumed to !

  • John Andrews

    The start of a new beginning at the Chicago Police Department

    The legacy of Jody Weis in Chicago will regrettably include his incompetence in command, as he needlessly bloated the command staff ranks to unprecedented levels, while leaving district law enforcement stripped to bare bones.

    The failures remembered of Weis will also include some of the promotions he made to command staff positions – the absolute worst of the worst – incompetent and corrupt hacks. This alone, proved to be a critical factor in the organizational paralysis of the CPD under Weis.

    The Chicago Police Department requires strong, ethical leadership to sustain its ability to be the true guardians of the public trust. The members of the CPD must have leadership that is competent and credible. Only then, can the organization successfully accomplish the mission and mandates required of them.

    99.9% of the members of the Chicago Police Department are hard working, honorable citizens of this city, who have taken a sacred oath to serve and protect our great city. I can assure you that these honorable men and women do not condone those within their ranks that are criminal or corrupt in any way.

    Terry Hillard, as interim Superintendent, will once again shine as a proven leader with unquestionable integrity. Chicago is grateful that Hillard answered the call to return to head the CPD, even if only temporarily. I am sure Hillard will make a much-needed positive impression as he guides the beginning steps of restoring organizational ethics, credibility and professional pride to the Chicago Police Department.

    To those who believe they may have what it takes to serve as the Superintendent of Police under the next administration: You would be well served to compare your work history, personal and profession ethics, passion for servant leadership, and proven skill sets to those of Terry Hillard. If you cannot measure even closely to this model – Chicago does not need you. Chicago deserves only the best.

    • Mary Mitchell

      john Andrews !
      you sa a funny @$$ crack smokin
      white ho !
      and , I luv ya !
      we should go out !!

    • JoJo

      John Andrews you are so wrong! According to all the citizens and the media, crime has been down under Jody. Last night Walter Jacobsen summed it up perfectly well in his perspective. Just admit it! That you don’t like the guy because he is not part of the Good Ol Boy network that is more interested in watching each other’s back than working and protecting the public. If i remember all those crocked cops that were arrested or kicked off the force were under Hillard’s watch. I agree that a majority of the police officers are hard working citizen, and some of them (CP officers that I know) enjoyed having Weis around. These hard working police officers enjoyed Jody because it kept officers like YOU (that got through the ranks with daddy being a Lieutenant and making that call for you) on your toes and accoutable for your actions. While you”re tiring your arm out by padding yourself in the back just remember one thing…once crime goes back up and Rahm removes his head out his ass, there will be another outsider taking over the Dept.

      • Mary Mitchell

        what ju talkin bout ! jo jo !
        leave john alone !
        he my man !

      • Bobo

        Jojo you said the key word, PERSPECTIVE…
        That is Walter Jacobson’s opinion, not necessarily the facts…

  • Voice of Reason

    Rahm is already disappointing his voters by allowing the Police Dept. to go back to their incompetent, lazy, and corrupted ways. Supt. Hillard is the epidome of that. Rahm will regret not keeping Jody around!

  • Hiroshi

    I am so glad to see Mr. Hilliard back on patrol. He is such a reliable person for the job. However he made it clear that his position will be temporatily.
    He needs to relax and be at rest. He is not as young as it used to be.
    Like many of us senior citizens we need to take it easy and not over do things.
    Heart attacks and all kinds of illnesses can bring our health down.
    I wish him the best in his new position.
    God bless him.

  • Larry

    Yet more crybaby cop posts. Yawn.

    Funny story. Great comedy.

  • Gary

    The only reason they don’t like Jody is because he isn’t part of the “in crowd”. He holds people accountable, and doesn’t go along with the Chicago politics. Rahm know that. Rahm needs a puppet of his own that he can control, and naturally Jody is going to let that happen. He isn’t be replaced due to performance. That is pure bull, but they need some excuse, right?

    • Bobo

      Wrong. Jody made the Chicago Police Department TOP- heavy and the toppling begins with him. He says lower crime rates are due to his regime, but its not true. Look what we have here! The 2010 census says the black population has decresed by 200,000, my oh my…

  • Mr Bill

    JoJo… Mr. Andrews is one of those hard working cops you refer to. He didn’t get through the ranks with “a daddy who was a lieutenant making that call for him.” Actually, he is the only one in his family who is a police officer… Unless you count his cousin, a Chicago police officer who was killed in the line of duty in the 1970’s. It is honest, harding working officers like Mr. Andrews, who have dedicated their lives to public safety, that allows people like you and I to sleep safely at night. To those officers, I say thank you.

  • JoJo

    Bobo and Mr. Bill, can you please remove your nose out of John Andrew’s rectal area. I’m sure your captain would appreciate it. You only want to believe what your fellow officers tell you. You guys, Donahue and the union, and other whining officers never gave him a chance. Didn’t you guys start his tenure by crying because he was wearing a uniform?I actually will sleep less knowing that we now have a moron temporary running the Dept. and that everything will go back to the way it was prior to Weis’ arrival…crime-ridden and corrupted. Thank God I can now have a gun in my own home! Thank you Supreme Court!

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/03/03/whom-will-emanuel-pick-for-new-top-cop/ Whom Will Emanuel Pick For New Top Cop? « CBS Chicago

    […] Hillard, who also served as police superintendent from 1998 to 2003, has said emphatically that he d… Print Share 5 […]

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