Chief O’Shea reflects on his five years with the Rockford PD ahead of retirement

O’Shea said he’ll miss the staff and the Rockford community the most, but believes the police department is set up for future success.
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:45 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - While the search begins for the new Rockford Police Chief, 23 News Anchor Shannon Kelly sat down with current Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea, who reflects on his time in Rockford over the last five years.

“I’m looking forward to it, I have a positive feeling,” said Chief Dan O’Shea. “It’s a great city.”

In April 2016, O’Shea said he was sworn in as chief of the Rockford Police Department with one main goal.

“If they have no regard for our morals, our society - those individuals, we’ll take care of and incarcerate,” O’Shea said.

Five years later, O’Shea feels he’s done what he came here to do, and he’s now ready to retire after 32 years in policing.

“A whirlwind, a blur, a great time,” O’Shea said when describing his tenure. “A lot of learning. I met some of the greatest people Kathy and I could have probably ever met,” he said, referring to his wife.

Since the day he was sworn in, O’Shea pledged to give the Forest City five years. He’s sticking to that promise as he is leaving in a matter of weeks, but not before making changes within the department.

“I think there was a disengagement with the community or not as much engagement as there should have been when I first came here,” O’Shea said. “That’s all I’ve pushed since coming here.”

Over the years, O’Shea has campaigned for block parties and other events that get officers interacting with neighbors, something he said has led to a decrease in crime statistics and an increase in solvability rates.

“Humanizing police officers is vastly important,” said O’Shea. “When you have those personal relationships with people in public, that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of.”

During the past year, the Rockford Police Department dealt with a number of protests on top of canceling some crucial community events due to the COVID pandemic. While the chief says none of these things led to his departure, he believes the next chief will need to continue modernizing the force.

“There’s going to be more changes in policing,” O’Shea said. “Less funding, more mandated training, and staffing and recruiting will be difficult - but it’s an ebb and flow.”

O’Shea said he’ll miss the staff and the Rockford community the most, but believes the police department is set up for future success.

“Do the right thing and do what’s best for the organization,” sad O’Shea. “I felt like I’ve done that, and always tried to do the right thing.”

When asked what’s next for him, O’Shea said he’s open to new possibilities.

“It’s the only adult job I’ve ever done,” O’Shea laughed. “I have to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Maybe private sector, but it’s not set yet.”

Chief Dan O’Shea’s final day with the Rockford Police Department will be April 30. He believes there are options on the department’s current command staff he feels could seamlessly fill his role.

The Rockford Board of Fire and Police commissioners will begin a search for O’Shea’s replacement.

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