Lincolnwood police chief LaMantia retires
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI and KEVIN GROSS
Lincolnwood police chief Robert LaMantia retired on Dec. 1 after a 37-year career in law enforcement and his replacement will be retired Chicago Police Department officer and former Area 3 deputy chief of patrol Bruce Rottner, who will serve as the interim police chief.
"All the stars have aligned for me. I’m 60 years old and I wanted to do something else in my life. I want to play golf, I want to travel and I want to ride my Harley," LaMantia said. "I’ve been working since I was 10 years old so 50 years is a long time. It was just the right time for me to retire. When you give 100 percent everyday for 36 years you get tired."
During his 11-year tenure in Lincolnwood, LaMantia worked to ensure that officers under his command were addressing safety concerns aggressively and professionally while strengthening the relationship between the police department and the community, according to a press release from the village announcing his retirement
LaMantia was appointed the police chief of the Village of Lincolnwood in October of 2005 after serving 26 years in the Wilmette Police Department, where he was appointed deputy chief in 1998.
"I’ve really enjoyed my work. My fondest memory will have to be the people in the police department and the support staff in other departments. Just the people interactions everyday were wonderful. Everyone involved was very professional," LaMantia said.
LaMantia said that his managerial style was that of a participative leader. "I would listen to the department and I would see what the consensus was on the issues. My motto was continuous improvement. Let’s do better today that we did yesterday," he said.
LaMantia was the staff liaison to the Traffic Commission, reviewing traffic safety improvements, attending public hearings on the Crawford Avenue reconstruction process and many policy initiatives such as alternative side street parking during snow storms and commercial vehicle parking amendments. He was also responsible for the transition of E-9-1-1 dispatch services to the Village of Skokie.
LaMantia said that alternative street parking during snowstorms was an initiative that he was proud of. "Before that snow plows would just zig-zag around cars on the street and I said well wait a minute, other villages have this," he said.
LaMantia also discussed the change in leadership on the village board of trustees.
"The village board has changed. The village board’s purpose is to set policy and it is the staff that implements the policy. I am comfortable with the board’s decisions as long as they are ethically and morally acceptable," LaMantia said. "Did I agree with every decision, no, of course not, but it is not my role to set policy. I don’t have an agenda."
"Chief LaMantia has been a true asset to the residents of our community. We know that when it comes down to building a vibrant, healthy and strong community, nothing is more important than public safety," village manager Timothy Wiberg said. "We are grateful for his service and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement."
Village Mayor Barry Bass said that it was a pleasure working with LaMantia as a trustee and as mayor.
"We wish Chief LaMantia the best of success, health and happiness, as he pursues new opportunities. We have much appreciation and gratitude," he said.
Mayor Bass swore in Bruce Rottner as new interim chief of police at the Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 5.
Rottner, who previously served as commander of the 24th (Rogers Park) District and deputy chief of patrol for Chicago’s Area 3 before retirement in 2011, will serve as the interim police chief as village officials search for a permanent replacement.
"I truly appreciate president Barry Bass’s and village manager Tim Wiberg’s confidence in my ability to lead the Lincolnwood police department for the next several months, or several years," Rottner said at the meeting. "The only commitment I can give to you is to do the best job I can while I am here, knowing we already have a simply outstanding police department. Police officers aren’t always perfect, far from it, but that’s probably because we have to recruit from the human race."
Rottner, who lived in Lincolnwood for a few years until 2013, gave a brief outline of his three priorities during his tenure of emphasizing officer safety, developing "realistic, reasonable and common sense" crime suppression strategies, and emphasizing community outreach and community involvement in crime prevention.
"I am a strong believer that strategies must be developed from the bottom up rather than the top down," Rottner said. "I intend to meet with every field officer and field supervisor and listen to their ideas about what we need to do to enhance our crime fighting abilities,"
Regarding community involvement, Rottner said, "Its been proven time and time again that when a community is actively involved in crime prevention, crime is reduced in that community, and I hope to increase our department’s involvement with our community with an increase in crime prevention seminars … The days of saying crime prevention is the police department’s job are over, folks."
Wiberg said that the village is currently searching for a permanent chief through executive recruitment firm GovHR, and that the search is tentatively slated to take 3 months. The company’s interim services division, GovTempUSA, also connected the village to Rottner as one of five candidates the agency found, and the company’s recruitment services were chosen through a no-bid process.
"Consultants from the firm will have a nationwide search, and give the names for the top 10 candidates or so," Wiberg said. "They are the most well known firm for executive recruitment. We actually used them to find LaMantia, as well as many other positions (in the village.)"
"It has always been my goal to provide Lincolnwood residents with the highest quality professional public safety services while also making sure that the men and women under my command had the guidance, training, equipment, resources and support to perform a very difficult, dangerous job well," LaMantia said. "It has been a genuine privilege and honor service this fine community and I leave knowing that our police officer and support staff will continue to serve Lincolnwood to the best of their ability."