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McCarthy Appoints New Commanders For Rough Police Districts

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Barbara West is the new commander of the Chicago Police Department's Austin District. (CBS)

Barbara West is the new commander of the Chicago Police Department’s Austin District. (CBS)

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UPDATED 03/30/12 4:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on Friday announced a major shakeup at the Chicago Police Department, with a big impact on some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.

McCarthy said changes are needed to strengthen efforts to reduce crime and to work more efficiently.

He promoted nine officers – four new deputy chiefs and five new district commanders.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Kathleen Boehmer has been named Deputy Chief in the Bureau of Detectives, Keith Calloway is the Deputy Chief in the Bureau of Organized Crime, Eddie Johnson has been named Deputy Chief of Area Central Patrol, and Carlos Velez is the Deputy Chief in the Bureau of International Relations.

Five police districts also have new commanders. Lynette Helm is taking over at the Grand Crossing District, Maria Pena at the Ogden District, Barbara West at the Austin District, James Gibson at the Morgan Park District, and James O’Donnell at the Jefferson Park District.

“In any organization, you have to look at where the rubber meets the road,” McCarthy told reporters. “District command in policing is probably the most difficult, demanding job that you’re going to have coming up through the ranks. It’s a testing ground, it’s a proving ground.”

The Austin District on the city’s West Side is where police cracked down on drug-selling gangs earlier this week.

Just before closing in, police took undercover video of two open-air drug markets, which operated both at night and in plain daylight. Police said 50 alleged drug dealers were charged, and millions of dollars in cash and drugs were confiscated, after the raids.

At the ceremony Friday morning, McCarthy said all the promotions are part of a strategy to make the Chicago Police Department more efficient.

Some positions have been eliminated, and police have merged and consolidated districts.

The nine promoted officers were chosen after being nominated by another command staff member, and then undergoing a two-tiered interview process.

West, who grew up on the West Side, says the department needs to deploy its resources wisely while being proactive to stem conflicts on the street.

“Conflicts are not all over the district, but they’re in certain focused places, and if we can address those places, then I think we do a better job with the resources we do have, putting down those conflicts,” she tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.

At the ceremony, police First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger outlined the promoted officers’ mission.

“To the newly appointees, a personal congratulations, thank you for the service you have given to Police Department in your tenure and look forward to new positions as you stand as the new image of the Chicago Police Department,” he said.

While positions were eliminated, nobody was laid off or demoted. In fact, 25 people were promoted within the department.

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