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Ending 'Dream Job' Chapter, Wicker Park Sergeant Heads to South Side

By Alisa Hauser | April 2, 2015 1:41pm

WICKER PARK — A familiar face on the streets —  and one known to lighten up Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meetings with jokes —  a  Wicker Park sergeant will serve his last day on the beat Saturday.

On Monday, Shakespeare Police District's Sgt. Joseph Giambrone will begin training for a lieutenant's role in a South Side district. As a result of the promotion, the 47-year-old cop will no longer be at the helm of a team of eight beat patrol officers dubbed the "Wicker Park Detail."

Sgt. Giambrone at Wicker Park Committee's meeting April 1. (Photo by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)

A unit within the Shakespeare Police District that patrols Wicker Park from evenings until the early morning hours, the detail devotes extra attention to "impact arrests," such as DUIs, drugs, graffiti and other problems.

More mundane tasks include "clearing out" Wicker Park's namesake park each evening at 11 p.m., a routine preceded by flashing lights and a bullhorn announcing — in English and Spanish — that people need to leave the park.

"I love Wicker Park. The enthusiasm is contagious here," Giambrone said shortly after he broke the news of his departure to a few dozen members of the Wicker Park Committee at the group's monthly meeting in the park field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave. 

Alisa Hauser says Sgt. Giambrone is a big part of the community:

Sgt. Joe Giambrone says goodbye. (Photo by Steve Jensen/Bucktown Community Organization)

Giambrone started his career in 1994 in Albany Park's 17th District and joined the Logan Square/Wicker Park Shakespeare 14th District in 2001. His service was interrupted when the military reservist was deployed to Iraq for two years.

Over a 12-year run in the Shakespeare District, Giambrone said he had worked under eight commanders, with 200 officers and alongside 25 sergeants.

Under Giambrone's leadership, the members of the Wicker Park detail have chased down graffiti taggers, issued tickets at bars for overcapacity and put in overtime hours after early morning shootings.

Two shootings, in summer 2013, are incidents that Giambrone said he would "never forget."

"Here, people don't blame police. We work together, like the meeting in Alderman Moreno's office after the [Emmanuel] Bass shooting, and the efforts with community volunteers who came out on their own time at 4 a.m. to help stop a three-decade old problem of prostitution along North Avenue," he said.

He added, "When you have that kind of community involvement and cooperation, and such a positive motivated team of officers, you know that you will get things done. It has been a dream job for me, because of the community."

Sgt. Joe Giambrone (l.)  and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)

"He adds an extra flavor to CAPS meetings and gives us a nice twist to every story, every bad guy that gets caught," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) at Wednesday's meeting.

To Giambrone, Waguespack said, "In all honesty this is our loss and your gain. The community congratulates you for getting that promotion. We're happy to see a great officer moving up the chain."

In addition to his regular job responsibilities, Giambrone, an avid cyclist, led the Shakespeare District's Bike Ambassador program with CDOT. The group gives away free bike lights once each summer and targets accident prone intersections to issue warnings to drivers and cyclists.

Sgt. Joe Giambrone at a roadside bike and car enforcement (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)

After the Wicker Park meeting,  Giambrone said he is looking forward to the new challenge but will miss the opportunity to patrol the 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail, set to open in June.

Giambrone and the detail team have been patrolling the defunct railroad line for years and in recent months, training on ATVs.

Beth White, Chicago Region Director of the Trust for Public Land, the city's private partner tapped to lead the '606' project, of which the Bloomingdale is its centerpiece, called Giambrone "a consummate professional" whose promotion is "well-deserved."

"Lt. Giambrone’s service and leadership always demonstrate community policing at its best. We wish him the best in his new role and his continued service to the people of Chicago," White said.

Steve Jensen, president of the Bucktown Community Organization and an involved citizen, present at most CAPS gatherings, wished Giambrone well, too.

"While we're sad to lose Sgt. Giambrone to another district, we're happy for him and his family of his promotion to Lieutenant. We enjoyed a positive and successful relationship with Joe and will miss his input, professionalism and banter in our community," Jensen said.

Shakespeare District Sgt. Joseph Giambrone (r.), on the Bloomingdale Trail after a groundbreaking ceremony in August 2013. (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)

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