Frank Limon may be new to River Forest, but he doesn't exactly feel like an outsider.
The way everyone pulled together during the recent flood made him feel at home almost immediately, he said after his appointment last week as the village's new police chief.
That kind of spirit fits in perfectly with his own hands-on management and community relations style developed during his 31 years as a Chicago cop, learning to look and listen as a detective, working with communities as head of the city's CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) program, and supervising as many as 600 officers. He served as a deputy chief responsible for most of the West Side and later as an assistant deputy commissioner and head of the Organized Crime Division.
But despite his numerous awards, including 10 department commendations, Limon said he is proudest of his role in helping to break up a drug ring two years ago that distributed tainted heroin that killed over 300 people (60 of them in Cook County alone) before the operation was shut down. "Based on our investigation here in Chicago, we were able to track it down to the lab in Mexico where it was being manufactured," Limon said.
He added that his experience working with multi-agency task forces should come in handy here in River Forest, "especially at a time when you have a lot of gangs being pushed out of the city. You have to make sure you have officers from different suburbs sharing information. For drug dealers and other criminals, there are no boundaries."
And because he realizes there are times when there never seem to be enough cops when you need them - even in a relatively low-crime climate like River Forest's - he'll rely heavily on the public to provide the extra eyes and ears he'll need to do his job properly.
Which is why Limon plans "face to face" meetings with as many different citizen groups as possible in the coming weeks and months.
One thing Limon said his officers and village residents will find out very quickly is that he never really stopped being a street cop.
"I never liked sitting in a chair. I like to ride out on the street. Hands on for me means going out on the street with the police officers. I need to know exactly what's going on. For me to show up on a search with the Organized Crime Unit was not unusual. Nobody was surprised to find the chief himself on the scene," he said.
"I believe police officers and their supervisors must work as a team," said the new chief, who started in law enforcement in 1977.
"If my partner at the time predicted that in 2008 I was going to retire as chief of Organized Crime and become chief of River Forest, I would have told him he was crazy," Limon said.
Thanks to Patrick Butler
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