Ambrose to retire as Oak Park police chief

Decision comes after lifesaving liver transplant

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Police Chief Anthony Ambrose announced that he is retiring from his position at the end of August.

The announcement comes after Ambrose took a leave of absence in late April when he was diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitus, more commonly known as NASH.

That condition required Ambrose to get a liver transplant at the beginning of the summer.

Ambrose, who has served more than three decades in the department, said in a village press release that he aims to focus his energy on his recovery.

"It has been a good run," he said. "Being chief of the Oak Park Police Department was the achievement of a goal I set when I first put on the uniform more than 34 years ago.

"Choosing to retire was a tough decision. But I know in my heart and head it is time for me to pass the chief's stars on to a new generation of leadership."

He succeeded Rick Tanksley in the position in September 2016. LaDon Reynolds has served as acting chief in Ambrose's absence. Reynolds will continue in the position while a permanent successor is sought.

Ambrose called Oak Park "a one in a million community" and said the outpouring of support when his illness was announced was "overwhelming but incredibly gratifying."

"The support from the community was just awesome," he said. "It is this level of citizen engagement and willingness to get involved that has made my career here so rewarding.

"All I ever wanted was a job where I could make a difference and help people. Working here proved to be that and more. I don't think I will ever be able to adequately express my thanks to the community for giving me the opportunity to serve."

He said his proudest achievement at the department was raising awareness about the need to improve understanding of mental health issues in Oak Park and beyond.

"I have always believed that if you treat people with dignity and respect they will do the same to you," Ambrose said. "I strived to instill this simple notion in the mindset of our police officers. I truly believe I succeeded and the community is better for it."

Ambrose joined the department in 1984 and rose through the ranks to become deputy chief in 2005. He became Oak Park's 12th chief of police, following Tanksley's retirement.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Christine Vernon  

Posted: August 7th, 2018 10:07 AM

This is a great loss to the community. Chief Ambose's statement of his mission and philosophy say it all about how fortunate we have been to have him at the helm of our police department. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your openness about your health and teaching many of us about the burden of NASH and the hopeful outcome of a liver transplant. The best to you in your recovery and to you and your family in your retirement. Please keep a positive thought for Oak Parkers that we continue to have good leaders and officers like you, who are and were such a relief after the disgraceful experience and handling of the scandal of 1984 in the police department, long before your time here. Many of us remember that time and are grateful that we have had decent and honest law enforcement officers since then.

Klara Gabor  

Posted: August 6th, 2018 8:14 PM

There is no need to seek a permanent successor as Deputy Chief LaDon Reynolds who has served as acting chief in Ambrose's absence is the perfect choice. I have never met Chief Reynolds but, I have heard nothing but positive comments about him and the most often mentioned is being responsive to residents, professional and accessibility. He has the experience and talent no need to look further.

Jim Major from Oak Park   

Posted: August 6th, 2018 6:13 PM

Thank you so very much Chief Ambrose. From the day we met you have always been easy going and sincere. A very kind man indeed. Your support and guidance mean so much . What you have done to help others is absolutely fantastic. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you soon. Jimmy

Mena Boulanger  

Posted: August 6th, 2018 5:57 PM

Chief Ambrose was a true friend and supporter of our community youth during my husband David's 15 years as Township Supervisor. He always there when information, advice and assistance was needed to ensure the best attention and help was given to youth in need. Thank you, chief, and happy retirement!

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: August 6th, 2018 5:49 PM

Chief Ambrose, I wish you the very best and thank you for your service.

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