Retiring CPD first deputy who survived mayoral phone calls gets warm send-off

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CPD First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro, who is retiring, may not mind miss his early-morning phone calls from the mayor. Here, he talks to reporters on a December afternoon outside a house where four people were found shot to death. | Sun-Times file photo / Sam Charles

Mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t have Kevin Navarro to kick around anymore.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department’s retiring first deputy got a warm send-off from the mayor who’s been raking him over the coals every morning about crimes committed on Chicago streets the night before.

Emanuel’s tribute came as Navarro participated in his final police graduation ceremony.

“Kevin had to survive, every morning, a phone call from me — his own Compstat — to go over what happened the night before,” Emanuel told 185 graduates at Navy Pier.

“But, since he’s on duty until the 15th [of February], I’m still calling him at 7:15 in the morning.”

Emanuel traced Navarro’s 32-year history — from patrol officer, deputy chief of patrol on the South Side and commander of Area South detectives, to commander of the South Chicago and Grand Central districts and, finally, first deputy.

“Our Police Department is different today than when he took in that responsibility as first deputy. We are a stronger police department and a stronger city because of his public service,” the mayor said.

“I wanted to take this moment as mayor to thank him and his family for their dedication, their service and their professionalism.”

Navarro will be replaced by Anthony Riccio, who now runs the Police Department’s Bureau of Organized Crime.

To appease Hispanics, who were hoping the No. 2 job would be filled by one of their own, South Chicago District Commander Noel Sanchez will replace Riccio as chief of Organized Crime.

Emanuel said the Chicago Police Department is fortunate to have a man of Riccio’s talents who is able to “step into those shoes and not miss a beat in filling them.”

“He, too, has been subject to my 7:15 a.m. phone call,” the mayor said of Riccio.

Lately, that morning-after mayoral phone call has been a bit less like an inquisition.

Chicago closed the book on 2017 with 664 homicides, plus seven people shot to death by on-duty Chicago Police officers. But there were 100 fewer homicide victims in 2017 than in 2016 — the steepest one-year reduction in nearly 15 years.

During Tuesday’s graduation ceremony, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the progress appears to be continuing into the month of January, driven by an influx of newly-hired officers and the use of ShotSpotter and other “data-driven enforcement” in more districts.

“I can tell you now that our trend in gun violence reductions so far this year in 2018 has continued to go down,” Johnson said, giving graduates a preview of the January crime stats he will announce Thursday.

“Murders and shootings have both seen nearly 30 percent reductions compared to last January. Across the city, in neighborhoods like Englewood where gun violence is the lowest it’s been in decades, we’re beginning to see how safer streets can change the outlook of the people in those communities who once lived in fear, but are now ready to rebuild.”

Navarro has served as first deputy since September 2016.

That’s when he replaced First Deputy Supt. John Escalante, who retired in the ongoing furor over the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Escalante served as acting police superintendent after the firing of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, but did not make the list of three finalists for the permanent job. The move infuriated Hispanic aldermen.

In February 2017, Navarro was embarrassed by the city’s decision to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit involving a drag-racing motorcyclist who was injured in an accident involving Navarro’s police SUV in 2011.

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