Deputy chiefs to be named today

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A decision is expected today on the two vacant deputy chief positions in the Oak Park Police Department.

Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley said last week that he hoped to announce the appointments Tuesday afternoon. However, scheduling problems related to having the eight final candidates at village hall at the same time delayed that process.

The two deputy chief slots have been vacant since the January 29 retirement of 30-year veterans Frank Kennedy and Richard Toll. The eight finalists were winnowed from a list of 49 candidates identified in a national search by the California executive search firm of Ralph Anderson & Associates.

By all accounts, the process has been thorough and intense. Top police brass reportedly put in a 12-hour day Monday, and continued with interviews Tuesday.

Tanksley said in February that he wouldn't be at all surprised to see some of the individuals currently filling in for the departed deputy chiefs on any final selection list.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for our command staff to step up," Tanksley said at the time, adding, "I fully expect members of my command staff to be at the top of any list," he said.

That appears to be the case. Unconfirmed reports put two high-ranking Oak Park police officers, Commander Keenan Williams and Commander Anthony Ambrose, among the finalists. The two men are part of the command ranks that Tanksley noted in February have received an opportunity to showcase their abilities. Ambrose and Williams, who usually dress in white uniform shirts on duty, were seen in civilian suits and ties Monday morning.

While saying he had not been involved in the selection process, village Communications Director Dave Powers said Tuesday that the village had "highly anticipated" the applications of in-house candidates along with as wide a selection of outside candidates as possible.

Ambrose, a 21-year veteran on the force, is currently responsible for supervising the department's Community Policing in the village, which includes the Resident Beat Officer program. Williams, who just celebrated 20 years on the force, is a Watch Commander.

At least four senior village staff have been involved in the selection process for the two deputy chief finalists. Besides Tanksley, they include Village Manager Carl Swenson, Deputy Village Manager for Operations Ray Wiggins, and Human Resources Director Frank Spataro.

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