Sobczyk to tackle gang crime as new Rogers Park commander

The police commander serving the 24th District in Rogers Park will rely on his gang expertise to thwart a growing problem in the neighborhood.

David Sobczyk, a Chicago native and 25-year veteran of the city police department, was named the new Commander of the 24th District by Superintendent Jody Weis, who announced several leadership changes within the department.

Sobczyk's former post at the Deployment Operations Center will be assumed by Commander Steve Caluris, Weis says.

"He'll be a tremendous asset with his years of experience and expertise, especially in gang intelligence and other areas of homeland security, which will be an added benefit to the daily responsibilities of a district commander," says Deputy Chief Brian Murphy of the Deployment Operations Center in reference to Sobczyk.

As Sobczyk transitions into his role, his first priority will be to listen to what the residents of Rogers Park about their concerns.

"My goal is to keep my ears open and hear from the people who live and work here," says Sobczyk.

Next, he will respond to the needs of his officers so they are better able to fight an increase in crime, especially violent crime. Crimes were up 2.9 percent citywide in 2008, according to statistics on the Chicago Police Department website, after a steady 16-year decline.

Murders were up 15.7 percent and 46.3 percent of the motives were gang-related.

Sobczyk has years of experience under his belt, especially with gangs and counter terrorism and intelligence, which will be useful in helping the Rogers Park community battle such problems. His previous assignments in diminishing gang activity took place in Cabrini Green and Humboldt Park, which Sobczyk calls a "challenging learning experience."

Members of the Rogers Park community came together during a recent town meeting, expressing concerns about crime in the neighborhood.

Sheli Lulkin, retired executive director of the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, lives on the boundary of the 20th and 24th districts and gets to compare the two. Lulkin says she has witnessed gang activity on numerous occasions and says Rogers Park in comparison to Edgewater "tends to be much worse, crime-wise."

Courtney Owen, commercial district planner for the DevCorp North says that the community needs more beat cops.

"I think people just want to feel safe in their own neighborhood and that goes for any neighborhood. Police need to focus their efforts on hot spots," Owen says.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond says Sobczyk was named Rogers Park commander because of his experience as a gang specialist.

"Commander Sobczyk has bedrock credibility when it comes to gang violence and intelligence," Bond says. "His policing skills go beyond gang intelligence. He has the ability to motivate his people and deploy the resources where they are needed most."

Sobczyk holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.A. in public administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

He began his career in the 11th District and later worked in public housing, gang crimes, vice control, patrol division administration and the gang intelligence sections.

One of Sobczyk's bigger accomplishments has been designing the Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC), which addresses both crime prevention and homeland security issues. It uses advanced technology and shared databases all over Chicago to reduce crime and prevent terrorist acts. This fusion center, which began in April 2007, is described as groundbreaking and has become a national model.

"I've been blessed throughout my career not only with the breadth of experience, but the richness of the people I've been surrounded by and that kind of exposure helped me to advance," says Sobczyk.