ROCKFORD (WREX) — The City of Rockford will have a new police chief come this summer.
On Tuesday, the City of Rockford announced Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea is retiring on April 30.
“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in this community over the last five years. My goal when I came to Rockford in 2016 was to focus on building relationships while reducing crime. We are doing that. We are making an incredible and tangible impact with our ROCK Houses and our programs for the area’s youth, and I know that will continue after my retirement.”Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea
“Chief O’Shea has done an incredible job tackling violent crime in our City; building relationships within the police department, with the unions and across the community; and training the future leaders of the department,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “The Chief should be commended for the progress he made throughout his tenure.”
Fives years ago, Dan O'Shea was sworn-in to serve and protect Rockford. Minutes into his tenure, he discussed his strategy with 13 News.
"Once we get more community involvement, I think we'll tackle the violent crime problem," O'Shea said during his swearing-in ceremony.
It began with the nationally-recognized ROCK House program O'Shea introduced in 2017 that put officers living in the community in a home rent-free in a neighborhood with high crime.
The goal has been to foster relationships between the community and police. The program received national attention. And the fruits of his labor became evident in January 2020, as violent crime dropped compared to the year before.
But Chief O'Shea has also faced many challenges.
One of the biggest was protests last summer. Multiple groups called for O'Shea to step down. A formal complaint was filed last June accusing the chief of biased policing because of a comment he made at a news conference. A review board decided O'Shea would not face any discipline.
In addition, two police officers, Daniel Basile and Eric Thurmond, were charged with sexual assault. Thurmond was a part of O'Shea ROCK House program.
And while violent crime has gone down in Rockford overall, 2020 was the deadliest year in the city with 36 murders.
The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners will now start the process to hire a new Chief.
O'Shea's future departure means the Rockford Board of Fire and Police is tasked with hiring two new leaders, O'Shea's replacement and a new Fire Chief after Chief Derek Bergsten announced his move to Fort Collins, Colorado after more than 12 years as head of Rockford Fire.
This simultaneous change in leadership is something the city hasn't seen in more than 40 years.