Oak Park's first female police commander retires

Howard's two-plus decades covered a range of experiences

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Phyliss Howard, the first female officer in the Oak Park Police Department to attain a senior staff rank, has retired from the department after more than 22 years.

The department held a ceremony for her at village hall Monday morning. Howard, a native of Oak Park, was present with her family to receive a plaque acknowledging her service.

Before she was promoted to commander in 2005, she served as a sergeant, juvenile investigator, school resource officer, and supervisor of juvenile investigations. At the ceremony, she said she learned much during her time with the department, which helped her talk to all kinds of people and deal with a variety of situations.

Howard told attendees she left a teaching career to join the department and recently started a job at a Montessori school in Chicago. She's working with kids age 3-6, and while she still serves in a supervisor role, "I'm not necessarily in charge of anything, and I like that."

John Williams, director of Oak Park and River Forest Township Youth Services, said he was grateful that Howard spent a lot of time "dealing with people at 2 a.m. who should be asleep." The two of them held bullying training at more than a dozen schools, he said.

"A lot of kids are breathing easier because of the work Phyliss has done," Williams said.

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