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Lincolnwood deputy chief tapped for Glencoe top cop

Lincolnwood Deputy Police Chief Cary Lewandowski is the first Glencoe Police Chief to be chosen from outside the Glencoe Public Safety Department.
Lincolnwood Deputy Police Chief Cary Lewandowski is the first Glencoe Police Chief to be chosen from outside the Glencoe Public Safety Department.
For the first time in the history of the Glencoe Public Safety Department, a chief has been chosen from outside its ranks. Lincolnwood Deputy Police Chief Cary Lewandowski, the next director of one of only two departments in Illinois combines police and fire services, has no fire department or emergency medical background.
 
Glencoe Village Manager Paul Harlow, could not be reached to explain his choice, but some of Lewandowski’s associates on the Lincolnwood Department say Glencoe is lucky to get him. In fact, two choked up at the idea of losing him Sept. 1.
 
“He’s a good coach, a great leader and a better friend,” said Lt. John Walsh, head of the Lincolnwood’s detective bureau and its support services division. “He’s going to be a great chief for Glencoe. “I don’t doubt for a minute he’ll be able to handle the fire department. He’s able to take advice and act correctly on it.”
 
Patrol Officer Jim Chartier, Lincolnwood’s police union steward, said that after facing Lewandowski across the bargaining table for years, he expects Glencoe has chosen the right guy to take over in the middle of the negotiations for Glencoe’s first pubic safety labor contract.
 
Lewandowski used to be on the other side.

“He was our steward, and he did our first contract,” Chartier said. He said Lewandowski is capable of holding his own in a shouting match
across the table, then “sit down and get it done – with no animosity afterward.

“Cary’s the glue that keeps this place together.” Lewandowski is a veteran of almost 27 years in Lincolnwood, a town with the same number of officers as Glencoe. While Glencoe is surrounded by other affluent towns, Lincolnwood is bounded on three sides by Chicago, and on the other by Skokie, with Evanston a few blocks away. It also has Lincolnwood Town Center mall, which generates considerably more activity than all of Glencoe. Lewandowski, 50, said Monday that his experience is good preparation for his new job. “Lincolnwood is very much like Glencoe: it’s serviceoriented, and not a lot of street crime,” Lewandowski said.

He said that he’s proud to be chosen, citing Glencoe’s status as America’s only officially accredited agency in both police and fire. In the current configuration of the Glencoe Department, the chief is typically the on-scene commander in a structure fire or rescue. Lewandowski said that “in the beginning, I’ll have to rely on staff for fire and (emergency medical services). I’ll gather as much expertise as I can.”

Schenita Stewart, a 14-year Lincolnwood Police veteran and a six-year detective, said Monday that her boss is telling the truth. “He’s one of the smartest people I know,” she said. “If he doesn’t know it, he’ll learn.”

Lewandowski has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Northeastern Illinois University, and a master’s in police and justice studies from Governor’s State University – both earned while working in Lincolnwood. He has finished leadership courses at the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety and the Police Executive Research Forum at Harvard.

Lewandowski was one of the original members of the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force, serving for 11 years, the last four as operations commander. NORTAF is the area detective consortium. He retired from NORTAF in 2008, when, as a lieutenant, he made a strong run for Lincolnwood chief, according to sources. Wilmette Deputy Police Chief Bob LaMantia got the job, and promoted Lewandowski as his new deputy chief.

After former Glencoe Public Safety Director Michael Volling resigned May 15, Deputy Chief Alan Kebby served as interim chief. Lewandowski coached Loyola Academy sophomore football for 13 years, stopping only to seek and prepare for the Glencoe job, he said. Helives in Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood with his wife Patty. They have three children; one in college, and two recent graduates.

“He’s a standup, honest, respected boss,” Stewart said. “He’s like a father to me. It’s hard to let him go.”

She said when she had to write her masters’ thesis, it was Lewandowski who got up early mornings to proofread the pages.

“I didn’t really have a father in my life,” she said. “He helped me grow up. Glencoe is so lucky. He’s a gem.”

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