Saturday, April 18, 2015

BETTER THAN HE FOUND IT: With Major Repairs Made, Local Commander Leaves For New Assignment

Commander Elias Voulgaris speaks to an October 2013
CAPS meeting. Image: DNAInfo Chicago
19th district Chicago Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris received a new assignment Friday as the department announced a series of executive-level changes.

CWB first reported the changes Saturday evening on our Twitter feed.

Voulgaris’ candor, accessibility, and sense of personal responsibility were a refreshing change for local residents who had seen a series of short-term, party-line commanders come and go in the years before his arrival.

Voulgaris took steps to correct long-neglected problems that fueled a years-long spike in violent street crime around Wrigleyville and Boystown.

By the time Voulgaris arrived in October 2012, manpower on the overnight shift in our nightlife-heavy district had atrophied to dangerously-low levels. He navigated the police department’s bureaucracy and gradually brought the midnight shift up to full strength in 2014.

While the district’s overall manpower now sits at a record low, the critical overnight shift is fully staffed.

Voulgaris also took on the neighborhood’s long-neglected robbery problem. After three consecutive years of record-high robbery rates in Wrigleyville and Boystown, muggings and hold-ups plunged 34% last year. They’re down another 10% this year.

But this was not love at first sight. Far from it. Voulgaris' early approaches to community problems sounded a lot like the previous commanders'. Talk of “perception” and the cult-like recitation of “crime is down.”

We criticized him. A lot. We said that he “blatantly lied” on camera when ABC7 reported on Boystown’s dirty little robbery secret in August 2013. “Frankly, commander, you are full of shit,” we wrote, “your lies will continue to cause people to get hurt.”

By fall, change was in the air, with Voulgaris telling a boisterous CAPS meeting that he would no longer make statistics the focus of our neighborhood meetings. "No one believes the stats."

He called on service agencies to step up to their responsibilities.

But, most importantly, he went a long, long way toward fixing serious problems that a series of previous “leaders” claimed did not exist.

So, we start anew.

Monday, Voulgaris will report as commander of the department’s Bureau of Patrol and Capt. Robert Cesario of the detective division will arrive as acting commander in Town Hall.

Cesario walks into a bit of a pickle, having to decide where to put the dwindling police force that he will command. Should he put them around the Major League Baseball stadium, nightlife robbery zone, and L stations?  Helmont maybe? How about the Uptown "Gang Conflict Zone"—yes, Uptown readers, that's what the department calls your hood—where homicides and shootings are popping at a record pace?  Such is life in an undermanned police department that can no longer handle two challenges at once.

Talking with a couple of cops last night, both said Cesario's good and solid. We hope so. We’d like to believe that this neighborhood has moved beyond the company line.
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  1. This is disappointing. I really appreciated his transparency any time I had to deal with him. Hopefully his predecessor is a good change.

    1. They all have to "do their time" before getting promoted or getting their retirement paperwork in due time. MY mother had to work the hood for the IRS before becoming an."ombudsman" (man). The CTA and USPS workers have to soend at least a minimal time in the ghetto before receiving their wings too.

      Congrats on your well deserved promotion Mr. V.

  2. Voulgaris is a good man. Accessible and seemed to be sincere in wanting to improve the situation. This is a real loss for our neighborhood, and he will be missed.

    Cesario - follow and build upon your predecessor's example.

  3. Voulgaris was policing the streets hands on, out there in his unmarked car at all hours of the day and night. A tough act to follow for sure.

  4. Eli is a class act and will be missed. Cesario is a micromanager and not as community oriented as Eli. Perhaps he'll adjust to fit his new assignment. I certainly hope so.

    1. You left out that he's a merit hack who never did well enough on a promotional exam to get promoted on the basis of his score.

  5. A micromanager is a failure in whatever they do, even worse if they have limited resources to work with because they don't have trust in their team to do anything. Voters overwhelmingly approved of the individuals that have created the mess, so this latest item should be good news to many. We can't walk out on our streets, but at least we have liberals representing us.

  6. Bullshit fudged numbers, our neighborhood is under siege!

  7. Very big shoes to fill. Hopefully the new guy doesn't suffer from little understanding.

  8. I will miss Elias and what he was able to accomplish in District 019.
    Interestingly, CWB reported this news on Saturday 4/18, and the Ward 44 alderthingty either didn't get around to it, or was too busy to get around to it, or whatever, until he sent his little newsblast at 4:56pm today, Monday 4/20. That's about par for the alderthingy's course, always a day or too late and a dollar short. Boy are we getting shortchanged in this ward!!! Funny how he has been seen very little since his re-election, but then, why should he bother? He's set for $100K+ a year for the next term.