Oak Park Chief of Police Rick Tanksley introduced his two new deputy chiefs last Wednesday morning with the promise that his command staff will help train and mentor a force which has suddenly dropped in age and experience.
"This village demands the best," Tanksley said as he sat with his two new deputy chiefs in Deputy Chief Robert Scianna's office. Tanksley said he feels confident his department got just that with the selection of Commander Anthony Ambrose and Chicago police Captain Carl Leidy.
Tanksley already knew what he had in Ambrose, a 21 year Oak Park veteran who has worked closely with both Tanksley and Scianna in the past.
Leidy, however, was an unknown quantity until recently, although no more. Tanksley expressed solid confidence in Leidy, praising his "wealth of experience" as both a street cop and a command officer. Leidy, he said, is a veteran Chicago street cop with a broad and deep understanding of the demands patrol officers face.
Leidy is a veteran street cop who by all accounts has never allowed himself to lose his street sensibilities even as he climbed the command ladder. Leidy is expected to be a teacher and mentor to Oak Park's large cadre of young patrol officers.
"In my mind Carl brings instant credibility as deputy chief of Field Services," Tanksley said.
"We have a younger police department now," he said. "And I need someone in charge of the patrol division who will be a steady hand, a teacher. Someone who is 'been there, done that,' and can bring along these young officers."
Leidy said he felt his experience and mentoring ability was one of his strengths, but not his only ones.
"I feel my specialty is in property crimes and burglary," said Leidy, who has a deep background as a detective, with a focus on property crimes.
That's a welcome development for Scianna, a former detective sergeant himself who said Wednesday that he still considers himself a detective above all else despite his high rank. Scianna said he views Leidy as a partner in the department's ever continuing efforts to deal with the ongoing challenge of theft and burglary that stem from the village's proximity to major West Side drug dealing.
Leidy (pronounced Lie-dee) said that his experience in such areas as Lincoln Park, which is similar to Oak Park in terms of demographics and diversity, is a plus.
"Oak Park and Chicago are going through the same thing," said Leidy, who agreed that he considers his ability to train younger officers a major strength.
Like Leidy, Ambrose's focus has also been on the street, though with a different focus recently. As head of Community Policing the past four years, Ambrose had overseen an effective effort to involve regular citizens in the daily challenge of maintaining quality of life in Oak Park's seven resident beats.
Tanksley, who has operated with only one other deputy chief since the January retirements of Frank Kennedy and Richard Toll, praised Ambrose, saying that he relied heavily of him over the past four months. That experience only confirmed what Tanksley has already known.
"Tony has an incredible administrative ability," said Tanksley. "As well as being able to talk with people."
Sitting on a couch in Scianna's office, the soon to be ex-Chicago Captain Leidy found himself part of a circle that first began forming back in 1984, when Tanksley and Ambrose came on the Oak Park force together. During that time Scianna served as their training officer. Now the three men and their Chicago colleague are taking the lead in guiding the Oak Park department into it's next era.
Referring to all three of his deputy chiefs, Tanksley said "I felt we had the right combination of individuals with these three to take our department to the next level of professionalism, and in dealing with some of the issues that are facing us."