17th District commander leaving post for OEMC
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Current 17th (Albany Park) Police District commander Elias Voulgaris will serve as CPD commander at the city Office of Emergency Management and Communications beginning in February and his vacancy will be filled by 12th (Near West) Police District watch operations lieutenant Susan Moss.
"This is something that was assigned to me recently so you do what the superintendent tells you," Voulgaris said. "It is bittersweet because I was a patrolman here (in 17th District) from 1986 to 1994 and then I came back in 2015 and I got tremendous support from the officers and from the community."
Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson recently announced Voulgaris’ move to the OEMC as part of changes to his leadership team that also responsible for crime control and operations and building trust between the department and communities. Voulgaris will work to ensure that CPD and OEMC operations work seamlessly to provide a higher level of service during routine service calls as well as high profile public events, according to a news release.
As part of the changes, Johnson has promoted police chief of organized crime Anthony Riccio, who was also the commander of the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District years ago, to first deputy superintendent, after Kevin Navarro announced his retirement. Johnson also promoted 4th (South Chicago) Police District commander Noel Sanchez to serve as the chief of the organized crime bureau.
Voulgaris has been on the police force since 1985, when he began working in the old 23rd (Town Hall) District. The 23rd District merged with the old 19th (Belmont) District in 2012 as part of a consolidation. Voulgaris worked in the 17th District from 1986 to 1994, as a police officer and tactical officer.
Voulgaris said when he took over in June of 2015 as commander of 17th District that he was the commander of the former Targeted Response Unit. He’s also worked in the 24th District, the old 13th District and the 10th District.
Voulgaris attended Amundsen High School and then Loyola Academy, and he has a bachelor’s degree from National Louis University and a master of public administration degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is married and has a boy and twin girls.
"I believe I made progress while I was here. We are down 69 percent in murders since the same time in 2016," Voulgaris said. Voulgaris said that he was proud of his work in the district, particularly in bringing down prominent gang-bangers in the area.
"We still have some rough pockets here but it’s not like it used to be. The reduction in gangs is something I am proud of because you have to do what you can because you are accountable to the community that you serve," Voulgaris said.
Voulgaris told Nadig Newspapers in 2015: "There was a lot more gang activity in those early years in the 17th, especially around Lawrence and Kedzie," Voulgaris said. "They were a little bit more hard-core gang members. Now I would call it the remnants of what was once here and a lot of wanna-be gang bangers."
He added: "You want us stopping the gang bangers, documenting the stops, showing them that we are around, and if they are doing something minor we’re going to issue them a citation and if they are doing something major they are going to be arrested, but it’s basically about being visible and stopping the right people at the right time."
Voulgaris said recently that in Albany Park, "people who are doing the robberies or gang activity are usually juveniles because they know that they won’t do a lot of time," he said.
"A lot of times the leader is no longer there so it’s more of situations where it’s a street rivalry and they see each other on the street and they start to shoot," he said.
"A lot happens here in the district because we are the second most diverse district in the city," he said. Voulgaris said that he is proud of community policing work that is being done in the district.
"Some of our community officers are face-to-face with residents and they know what is going on in the neighborhood. We also have a new foot-patrol officer so that also helps," he said. Voulgaris continues to encourage people to call the police if they see people acting suspiciously.
"Neighbors know who belongs in a neighborhood, neighbors know who is delivering, neighbors know what’s going on, and we need more neighborhood involvement," he said in 2015.
Voulgaris’ post in the OEMC will be to increase police response and work on special events, he said. "Communicate information and basically be a conduit between the office and the police department," he said.
Voulgaris said that he has been showing Susan Moss "the ropes" in the district.
"They have allowed me to show her and shadow her until Feb. 1 when this takes effect and we will be meeting with aldermen and community groups so that she doesn’t start out blind in the district," Voulgaris said.
"She is a very smart and capable person and I do want someone to take care of this district and to bring in good people and I think that she will do an amazing job here," he said.
Moss is a 30-year veteran in CPD, mostly in the bureau of patrol. As a lieutenant she has served in tactical, field and community policing functions. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University.
"Every new member of our leadership team shares our goals to make CPD better for every Chicagoan as well as the brave officer that work to keep our streets safe," Johnson said in a statement. "They all have my fullest confidence in their ability to serve with honor, build lasting partnerships with the community, and to help us continue to reduce crime throughout the city."