Cop shop shakeup: Commanders at 1st, 12th district stations swapped out

12/05/2012 10:00 PM

By Ben Meyerson

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As the city struggles with a crime epidemic of shootings and murders, the Chicago Police Department shook up leadership throughout town this week, including locally at the 1st and 12th districts.

At the 1st District, which covers the city from downtown south to Bronzeville, including the South Loop, longtime Commander Chris Kennedy is moving out. Replacing him is Commander John Graeber, who moves over from the department’s transportation unit.

At the same time, the department officially named a new commander for the newly combined 12th and 13th districts, which covers a broad swath of the Near West Side and West Town from the Chicago River north to Division Street. The combined district will be based out of a new police station at 14th Street, Racine and Blue Island avenues. Taking the helm is Commander Melissa Staples, who moves over from the 17th District, which is based in Albany Park on the North Side.

Staples’ move means the 12th District’s acting commander, Ron Pontecore, is back to being the district’s executive officer (second in command) after more than half a year in charge. The 13th District’s acting commander, Kevin Anderson, was at his post for a little less than a month.

“Commander Melissa Staples is an experienced leader at the helm of the merging of two districts,” police department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton wrote in an email. “Captain Pontecore will remain as executive officer in the district.”

The 12th and 13th districts are still independent for now, but the combined station is scheduled to open later in December. The police union wrote on its website that the new 12th District station was scheduled to open Dec. 9, but Stratton said it’s been rescheduled to open about a week later, though she didn’t have an exact date.

In the 1st District, Kennedy is moving up to the department’s gang investigations division, a position of prominence as the department puts more and more of its efforts into shutting down violence between warring factions.

“Commander Chris Kennedy is a skilled leader whose superior leadership will now be utilized in our work to quell gang violence at the gang investigations division,” Stratton wrote. “Commander John Graeber is being asked to lead one of the busiest districts, in recognition of his tremendous work in the Transportation Unit.”

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