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‘He wasn’t just the Rockford Police Chief, he was the people’s chief,’ city leaders weigh in on O’Shea’s legacy

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — After five years of leading Rockford's police force, Dan O'Shea retired on April 30.

Leaders throughout Rockford including Deputy Police Chief Kurt Whisenand say O'Shea changed the department from the top down.

"We had over 20 grievances pending with the union when Chief O'Shea took over," Whisenand said. "In the last five years we've had none. That internal relationship is so much better. Looking back five years ago, it's not even the same department. It's night and day in so many ways. It doesn't even resemble its former self, and that's a good thing not only for the department but for the community."

Joe Chiarelli now serves as Winnebago County's Chairman, but five years ago, he was shaking hands with O'Shea as an alderman. He says O'Shea's leadership made an immediate impact in the city.

"In leadership itself, you have to have followers," Chiarelli said. He immediately had followers from the rank and file. "We weren't involved in police policy, but you could see the change immediately in the behavior of the men and women in blue there."

Randy Berke will take over for O'Shea as the interim chief while the city's police and fire commission finds a long-term hire.

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William Ingalls

William Ingalls is the weekend reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford and went to high school at Christian Life.

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