An informal farewell party was held for 15th District Commander Al Wysinger last Friday, at the 5701 W. Madison St. station. Well-wishers included his wife, mother, brother and grandmother, community leaders and colleagues, who gathered to acknowledge him as he moves up to Deputy Chief of Organize Crime.
Sgt. Glenn White served as master of ceremonies, and, one by one, each of his colleagues expressed their happiness with his promotion, but said they would miss his leadership at the 15th District.
Benny Meeks, a community activist in the Austin community and one of the 15th Dist. beat facilitators, said, “When I heard about the promotion, I was sort of dismayed, and that is because I like you so much. But if any person deserves the promotion, it is you, and you will be good at what you do. Since you have been in the 15th Dist., you knew how to communicate; you knew how to work with the organizations and different beats. Your career is wide open, and I’ll tell you right now, I hate to see you go, but I am very, very proud of you.”
Lieutenant Kane, who was on furlough, made a special trip to bid best wishes to the commander. “I should have known something was going to happen. Every time I go on furlough, I come back to a different police department. I will say this: The one nice thing about working with Cmdr. Wysinger-he is a commander who leads by example. He’s not a commander in name only; he stands out there with the troops. He gives a great example, standing shoulder to shoulder with us, and over the last year and a half or two years, he’s been an inspiration to us. That is why we’ve been able to be the number one Tact team in the City of Chicago. Under his leadership, he’s given us the ability and freedom to go out there and do the job, and you can see the results. Congratulations, good luck on your new position, I hope that the incoming commander leads by your example and we can continue to move forward, and congratulations one more time.”
“All of us here have learned something from our commander then and deputy chief now,” Sgt. White said. “His door is always open. He has never turned anyone away; whether it is a patrol officer, civilian, his door has always been open, and I’m quite sure it will continue to be that way. Everything is black and white-there is no gray area. It is either right or wrong, and we learn from that.”
Cmdr. Wysinger said, “Almost three years ago, I embarked on this journey, not knowing what to expect. The community welcomed me with open arms; they were my base. It was very important that we established that bond, and we maintained that bond. I was also fortunate to have great young officers who were yearning to learn and really wanted information and really wanted to go out there and be good police officers.
“It was not a whole bunch I did as a commander; you guys had it all the time. I might have to nudge you a little bit here and there, but for the most part, you guys did it all. I’m standing here where I stand today, standing on your shoulders because you got out there and you gave the community the respect it deserves, you gave them the service that they needed, and you also made them feel they were part of the Chicago Police Department.
“My vision when I got here was to make the Austin district not just citizens and police officers but everybody being one big family. I think I mentioned at the grand opening that I was going open this station up for the community and try to use every inch of this new station that we had. I know I put some extremely daunting tasks on my community policing officers, but they stepped up to the task. Anything that popped into my head while at home that I could do for the kids, I would give to them and somehow they would make it happen.
“They would transform the rooms during Halloween, or whether it was Hip-Hop 2, Male Mentoring Program, anything we could do to try to get these kids to be better, you guys got on board and got with the program.
“I can’t say enough about my Tact team. These guys with limited resources-they had much less than most Tact teams in the city-were able to go out yearly and be the number one Tact team in the city.”
Wysinger noted that many young cadets want to work at the 15th, but can’t get in and that it’s a testimony to the staff at the district. In closing, the commander said he would stay close to the neighborhood he grew up in.
“I will never be too far from you guys and ladies, and my door will always be open. I would be remiss in not acknowledging that all the things said about me, my character, etc., is because of my family here today, my grandmother, mother, brother and my lovely wife. They say it takes a village, and you guys are my village. You never let me get big-headed and always kept me informed. There were no titles. It was all one team. It is that team effort that makes this place what it is.”
Wysinger will be working out of the Homan Square area, as Deputy Chief of Organized Crime, the new 15th District commander is Walter Green.