New commander of 17th District named
by KEVIN GROSS
Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson has named Ronald Pontecore Jr. as the new commander of the 17th (Albany Park) Police District, succeeding former commander Susan Moss who was transferred to Area Central as an executive officer.
"I knew about the decision about 3 days before it occurred," Pontecore Jr. said. "But I’m very excited to be back here."
Moss, a 32-year veteran, served for less than a year as the 17th District commander, following former commander Elias Voulgaris’ appointment as a CPD commander in the Office of Emergency Management and Communications earlier in February.
Pontecore Jr. was most recently the commander of the 8th (Chicago Lawn) District, an area that he said had its challenges.
"8th (District) was much busier and a little more crime ridden. But even here in 17th, where it (crime) is not quite as prevalent, you’ve got to approach crime fighting with the same attitude," he said. "I wanted to leave there as a safer place than it was when I got in, and the same applies here."
When asked about the major issues he sees in the 17th District, Pontecore Jr. said he wants to address issues of gang violence and theft of vehicle parts such as wheels. He said that he plans to use his connections with the mass transit unit to devise strategies near the neighborhood’s high-traffic areas by stops on the CTA Brown Line. He also said that he sees community engagement and resident awareness as key tools to safety.
"I want a real community based approach. In the 8th (District) we made them (officers) more engaged in the beats they work, we made them get out of the patrol cars more and talk to the people in the neighborhoods," he said. "I can admit sometimes people can be afraid to call 9-1-1. That is something we want to change via our community efforts."
Pontecore Jr. said that he plans to schedule "Coffee with a Commander" events once a month in different areas of the district, and that a personal initiative of his would be to "learn the personal customs of the many people in the area," referring to the diversity of Albany Park, often described as Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood.
Pontecore Jr. was also a captain in the 25th (Grand Central) District and the Inspection Division and has served other roles in the 25th, 15th (Austin) and 10th (Ogden) districts and on the city gang team. Additionally, he had worked as a lieutenant in the 17th District, an area that he noted for its changes through the years.
"That was back in 2003. Right after I was promoted to lieutenant, I was assigned to the midnight shift here, but we were still in the old station over on Sunnyside and Pulaski," he said. "The neighborhood has really changed and seems to have seen a lot of upgrades. Many of the places look brand new from what I once knew."
Going forward, Pontecore Jr. said that the 17th District is likely to receive a strategic deployment center in the future, which utilizes predictive analytics to map out ideal patrol patterns based on factors such as time of day. An exact schedule for the project has yet to be implemented, he said.
The 27-year veteran holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Lewis University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePaul University.