New 16th District commander named


16th (Jefferson Park) District commander James O’Donnell has been transferred to commander of the 8th (Chicago Lawn) District after 8th District commander David McNaughton was promoted to deputy chief of patrol.

McNaughton was the 16th District commander before O’Donnell.

The April 15 meeting of the 16th District Advisory Committee was O’Donnell’s last. O’Donnell, who lives on the South Side, had never worked on the Northwest Side until he became the 16th District commander in 2012, but he often surprised committee members with his ability to name area streets when describing a crime.

"It’s been the best place in my career to work," O’Donnell said. "It’s been wonderful to work with all of you."

The district’s new commander is captain Roger Bay, whose previous post was as the executive officer in the 11th (Harrison) District. Bay graduated from Lane Tech High School.

It was announced at the meeting that the 16th District is asking bank officials to consider contacting police when they encounter unusual transactions following a series of scams that have targeted the elderly.

"I know banks are limited on what they can do about calling the police and giving information about their customers," O’Donnell said. "We just want to put out a little advice."

District officers planned to meet with local bank officials on April 22 to discuss when they should report unusual behavior by their customers, such as a large cash withdrawal. The district has had a dozen instances this year in which seniors have been scammed out of money.

The scams have included telling victims that cash is needed to bail a relative out of jail or that they owe the federal government money, O’Donnell said. "They’re particularly targeting Polish people," he said.

In one instance the victim had learned about the scams in the media, O’Donnell said. "She heard it and still met with the guy, giving him $15,000," he said.

Also at the meeting, the committee discussed the use of social media capture criminals. A representative of Nextdoor, a social media company that has set up a private network for neighborhoods in the city, was a guest speaker at the meeting.

O’Donnell said that police can respond to online concerns that residents express about suspicious people and vehicles in their neighborhoods. "That’s something we can monitor and say call 911 next time you see it," he said. "It’s more community involvement. It’s like an electronic phone tree."

It also was reported that two men were arrested at about 6:10 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, after 287 grams of suspected marijuana was found in their vehicle during a traffic stop in the 4600 block of North Linder Avenue, according to police. Officers saw that the car did not have a city registration sticker, and after they learned that the license plate on the vehicle was registered to an address in the city, they stopped the car and noticed the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, police said.

The suspects were identified by police as Calixto J. Escobar, age 20, of the 4600 block of North Ashland Avenue, and Kenneth Michael Ghaziani, age 20, of the 1200 block of West Gunnison Street. Another passenger in the car was released without being charged.

The committee also discussed the March 31 arrest of a bank robbery suspect who was apprehended while hiding in the back yard of a home in the 4700 block of West Berteau Avenue. The suspect, who was identified by police as William H. Bolton, age 37, of the 4400 block of West School Street, fled TCF Bank, 4660 W. Irving Park Road, in a waiting taxicab, but fled the vehicle after a dye pack with the money from the bank exploded, police said.

The committee presented its Officer of the Month Award to Michele Wilkoszewski and John O’Callaghan for their Feb. 17 arrest of a man who was accused of stabbing his brother during an argument over money. The suspect was arrested after he entered an auto repair shop in the 7500 block of West Belmont Avenue and asked for a change of clothes, police said.