After serving in River Forest for three decades, Police Chief Gregory Weiss announced his retirement at a village board meeting, Dec. 11. He will be replaced by Deputy Police Chief James O’Shea, effective Jan. 3.
“I will always be grateful for this amazing career and the opportunity to work with a wonderful community,” said Weiss, who started his career as a patrol officer in River Forest on Oct. 13, 1987. Prior to that, he served for five years as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, where he met his wife Janine. After the army, Weiss earned his master’s degree by attending night classes at Western Illinois University, where he studied law enforcement administration.
In 1993, his peers in the department named him “Officer of the Year.” Over the years, he’s served in a number of roles, including a firearms instructor, field training officer, juvenile officer and more. After 24 years, he was promoted to chief of police in 2011.
His promotion shows “there is opportunity, after a very long lapse, that you can begin as a patrol officer and rise to chief of police,” said O’Shea.
Weiss will be remembered for making River Forest one of the first departments in Cook County to deploy Narcan, a powerful opioid-reverser, as well as adding more street cameras and license plate readers to the village.
Trustee Michael Gibbs recalled first meeting Weiss in 1993, after he served as the investigating officer when Gibbs’ house was robbed.
“They never solved that,” Gibbs joked. Nonetheless, “I’m proud to think of him as a friend after that.”
At the village board meeting, Gibbs gifted Weiss with a blue bathrobe, bedazzled with silver police stars and embroidered with a police patch. He also offered Weiss balloons, and handed a bouquet of yellow roses to Janine. Trustees presented Weiss with a plaque — decorated with a police car — that honored his time as a first responder. After Jan. 3, Weiss plans to retire in northern Wisconsin.
“Tonight we are saying goodbye to a friend and saying hi to a new one,” Gibbs told an emotional village board.
O’Shea joined River Forest’s force on Jan. 2, 1995, starting as a patrol officer and eventually rising through the ranks as a detective, sergeant, and patrol division commander. In January 2013, officials named him deputy chief, where his responsibilities include supervising the department’s day-to-day activities and serving as public information officer. O’Shea holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, where he majored in sociology and psychology, and a master’s from Lewis University, where he studied public safety administration.
O’Shea said he will always remember Weiss as the voice of calm in the department.
“Thank you for mentoring, coaching, counseling, and the ability to see things through other people’s eyes and gain perspective,” O’Shea told Weiss.
Village trustees will swear O’Shea in as police chief at the next village board meeting on Jan. 8.