Deputy Chief Dave Jacobson, Chief Shatonya Johnson, and Deputy Chief Roderick Robinson | Photo provided by Village of Oak Park/Joe Kreml

Two veteran police officers, one local and one from Chicago, were sworn in May 23 as the deputy police chiefs of the Oak Park Police Department. Together, they bring nearly 60 combined years of police experience as deputies. 

Dave Jacobson and Roderick Robinson were appointed by Chief Shatonya Johnson and Village Manager Kevin Jackson, following a nationwide search. Jacobson has served as an Oak Park police officer since 1995, most recently as the sole interim deputy chief, while Robinson joined the department the day of his swearing in. He previously spent 30 years serving as an officer in the Chicago Police Department, making him the second former Chicago officer on Oak Park’s current command staff. 

The chief described both deputies to Wednesday Journal as hardworking and knowledgeable in the field of policing, sharing that she believes Jacobson did “a great job” while acting as interim deputy and she looks forward to the perspective Robinson will bring to Oak Park.

“I do believe that Robinson was the missing piece to put the puzzle together to move forward,” said Johnson.

Both men wasted no time getting to work, following their swearing in, according to Johnson. The day after the ceremony, the two deputies accompanied the chief to a meeting with Oak Park residents of the 1150 block of South Ridgeland Avenue to discuss the block’s inclusion in a new ordinance authorizing the towing of unpermitted vehicles. The ordinance is intended to decrease criminal activity and disturbances associated with Berwyn bar patrons parking on neighboring Oak Park streets.

Beyond meeting with neighbors, Jacobson’s and Robinson’s first day was spent getting lunch with the chief and giving Robinson a tour of the village. Jacobson is already well acquainted with Oak Park, having lived in the village almost as long as he’s been serving in its police department. He moved to the village three years after joining the force.

Deputy Chief Dave Jacobson is sworn in by Clerk Waters | Photo provided by Village of Oak Park/Joe Kreml

Jacobson spent a decade as a patrol officer and resident beat officer, before becoming a patrol sergeant. In 2010, he became a community policing sergeant, where he supervised Johnson, then a resident beat officer. 

“You could tell she was destined for great things,” Jacobson said of Johnson, who was appointed chief last October.

Jacobson was a community policing sergeant until September 2018, when he was appointed interim commander of operations. He was named patrol commander roughly eight months later. He’s been serving as interim deputy since September 2022,  overseeing both field services and the support services bureaus. 

Now officially a deputy chief, Jacobson will oversee support services, which includes community policing, investigations, evidence and records, as well as officer training, about which he feels particularly passionate. Jacobson has trained officers in defensive tactics, firearms and ethics for new officers, among other areas.

“Skills are learned and if you don’t continually train, you run the risk of falling behind in best practices,” said Jacobson. “That is why it’s so important for us to really dive in and engage in active and consistent training on a regular basis.”

While Jacobson will not be training his fellow deputy, who comes with decades of his own experience, he is helping Robinson to get acclimated with the operations of the Oak Park department. The two deputies “hit it off right away,” according to Johnson, and Robinson’s background has made the transition easier on everyone.

“I’ve just been showing him around a little bit, getting him caught up to speed,” said Jacobson. “He knows what he’s doing.”

With their combined years of service and extensive knowledge of policing, Robinson believes he and Jacobson together provide Oak Park a strong footing for collaborative leadership to the benefit of the safety and livability of the village.

Deputy Chief Roderick Robinson is sworn in by Clerk Waters | Photo provided by Village of Oak Park/Joe Kreml

Robinson characterizes the majority of his law enforcement career as “violence reduction,” working in police districts on Chicago’s West and South Sides in such roles as commander, captain and tactical sergeant. 

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he served as area commander of Area Four, which consists of three Chicago police districts, acting as right hand man to a Chicago deputy chief, supervising the district commanders. Robinson, along with the deputy chief, was responsible for developing COVID-19 safety protocols implemented across the department. 

“It became the foundation going forward for handling the pandemic, which was obviously something new to everyone,” said Robinson.

As district commander in Chicago’s 7th Police District, he put together a community policing network and achieved the largest reduction in shootings and homicides in 20 years.

He retired from the CPD last November. He told Wednesday Journal he decided to apply for the open deputy chief position because he missed police work and wanted to engage in community policing. 

“Oak Park was a perfect solution,” he said.

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