OEMC chief Rich Guidice retiring

Guidice’s career in the city has spanned 33 years, starting with a construction position at the Chicago Board of Education before a stint in operations in former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office.

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Richard Guidice, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications, speaks at a September 2022 news conference. He’s retiring.

Rich Guidice, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, is retiring.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Rich Guidice, the man who has overseen public safety operations at major events across Chicago the past four years, is retiring, city officials announced Thursday.

Guidice, 54, has served as executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications since 2019, coordinating efforts among numerous agencies in preparation for everything from snowstorms and COVID-19 to Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago.

OEMC manages the city’s 911 and 311 call centers, among many other logistics.

Guidice’s career in the city has spanned 33 years, starting with a construction position at the Chicago Board of Education before a stint in operations in former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s office.

The Humboldt Park native joined OEMC in 2005, overseeing championship parades for the White Sox, Blackhawks and Cubs, as well as security at the 2012 NATO Summit. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed him to the top post in 2019.

“Throughout our work together, our city has endured great challenges, but what I have admired about Rich is his steady hand and effective leadership to stir the emergency response management of this great city,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.

“At the helm of OEMC, he helped build a strong foundation for the department, was integral to our COVID-19 response and the modernization of our city’s emergency response technology, and most recently, our new arrival mission [for asylum seekers]. I am grateful for his service to our city and residents, and I wish him all the best in this next chapter of his life and a much-deserved retirement,” Lightfoot said.

Over the past year under Guidice, the city has encrypted police radio transmissions, which have long been monitored by news reporters and hobbyists to follow emergency responses.

Those radio dispatches are now only available on a 30-minute delay, a controversial switch that has been protested by media organizations and other government watchdogs as a block on transparency in city operations.

Guidice, Lightfoot and leaders at the Chicago Police Department have claimed the encryption protects the privacy of crime victims and prevents criminals from keeping tabs on the police.

An interim replacement for Guidice has not been named. Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson will be sworn in next month.

Speaking to the Sun-Times in 2018 shortly before he was named head of OEMC, Guidice called the job “a 100% commitment, and I’ll tell you that having this job, your phone will not stop ringing.

“Don’t expect to sleep at nighttime, you will not get a full night’s rest in this job,” Guidice said. “A lot of public safety jobs — the police department and the fire department are getting the same calls that we’re getting — but it will keep you up at night.”

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