CHICAGO (CBS) — Interim Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard was back on the street for the first time in years on Friday.

He took over as the city’s top cop on Wednesday after nearly eight years in retirement, to run the Police Department until Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel makes his pick for superintendent.

Hillard took part in his first roll call on the street on Friday and had a critical message for a group of police recruits in the West Pullman neighborhood.

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Those recruits were sent out in an effort to arrest a serial rapist who is suspected of attacking as many as eight women in the West Pullman, Roseland and Morgan Park neighborhoods since last fall.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, Far South Side residents were wondering what took so long.

Some people living in that area pointed out that the first attack was almost five months ago.

But now there’s a new superintendent running the department and a new focus on catching this serial attacker.

“Do what you’re supposed to do. Get out there and let the public know that we’re out there to do our best and try to help identify, locate and apprehend this individual,” Hillard said.

That individual is a man police believe has raped at least eight women since last October on the south side, in an area between 115th and 130th streets and I-57 and Halsted Street.

“He has come from … in the blind spots and he’s armed with a gun and carries them off to a school area, where he sexually assaults them,” Calumet Area Tech Division Cmdr. Keith Calloway said.

The last attack was on Feb. 13 in a West Pullman alley.

Police commanders told a group of recruits on Friday to fan out and walk through the neighborhoods to check for unsecured abandoned buildings and alert people who live in the area about the attacks.

“It puts me on edge,” LaShay Mays said.

She said she was glad there were police officers and recruits out on the streets Friday to check homes and talk to residents about the serial rapist.

“It’s about time. It’s about time,” she said.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said, “Sometimes it is a dog and pony show, but then the afterward is my dog and pony show, because then results is what comes about.”

Hillard said the effort on Friday was all part of his goal to do things as a team and get officers motivated.

“I plan on going out to the districts and the roll calls and addressing the young cops,” Hillard said. “We got a summer that’s coming up.”

Calloway said Chicago police have been working with a south suburban task force to determine if the attacks were connected to at least three other rapes in nearby suburbs.

Hillard said police might also call in an FBI profiler to assist in the investigation.

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