JEFFERSON PARK — Chicago police officials Tuesday named a new leader for the Jefferson Park Police District, reassigning Cmdr. James O'Donnell to the South Side, officials said.
O'Donnell, who will take over the Chicago Lawn Police District, will be replaced by Capt. Roger Bay, who will be promoted from his current position as the second-ranking officer in the Harrison Police District on Chicago's West Side, said Chicago Police Spokesman Adam Collins.
The department is "giving several individuals who have overseen strong results more challenging assignments" starting next week, Collins said.
O'Donnell, who lives in Mt. Greenwood, will replace Chicago Lawn Police District Cmdr. David McNaughton, who has been promoted to serve as one of the department's deputy chiefs of patrol, officials said.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has great confidence in these officers' leadership skills, Collins said.
O'Donnell will be missed on the Northwest Side, Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said.
Cullerton often praised O'Donnell for his frequent patrols around the Jefferson Park Police District, the largest in the city. O'Donnell was often one of the first officers to arrive on the scene of a major shooting or violent incident, Cullerton said.
"I anticipate the same kind of service under the new commander," Cullerton said.
"I'm sure [O'Donnell's] family will be happy," Cullerton said. "It is a long haul up here."
O'Donnell will be remembered by Jefferson Park Police District officers as an approachable, fair boss who did not hesitate to get out from behind his desk and make a traffic stop or an arrest, according to a officer assigned to the district who asked not to be named since he did not have permission from Chicago Police News Affairs to speak to a reporter.
Bay, who lives on the Northwest Side and graduated from Lane Tech High School before taking classes at Wright City College, comes to the Jefferson Park Police District highly recommended and has a distinguished record, Cullerton said.
In July, Bay was profiled by the Chicago Reader for his approach to fighting crime in West Humboldt Park and Garfield Park. Bay told the weekly magazine he urges the officers under his command to work with residents and businesses to address the root causes of crime and violence in some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods rather than just arresting criminals.
Cullerton, whose 38th Ward is part of the Jefferson Park Police District, said he would urge Bay to focus on the influx of gang activity into Portage Park in recent months.
"The statistics show a decline, but we're seeing a gang influence that we haven't seen in a while," Cullerton said.