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With murders up 35%, McCarthy shakes up Chicago police brass

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy announced several promotions withcommranks Chicago Police Department Friday March 30 2012. Lynette Helm is

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy announced several promotions within the command ranks of the Chicago Police Department Friday March 30, 2012. Lynette Helm is pinned by "Auntie" Nataleen Coleman, a retired Chicago police officer. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 31, 2012 2:08AM

With Chicago suffering a 35 percent spike in murders this year, police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced a reshuffling of his command staff Friday, replacing commanders in five of the city’s 23 districts.

McCarthy also promoted three supervisors to deputy chief positions. He said the changes were made to “strengthen the department’s ongoing efforts to reduce violence” and create a “more efficient departmental structure.”

McCarthy promoted James Gibson as commander in the Morgan Park district; Lynette Helm in Grand-Crossing; James O’Donnell in Jefferson Park; Maria Pena in Marquette, and Barbara West in Austin.

A police spokeswoman said no district commanders were demoted to make way for the changes in those five districts. They replaced commanders who were promoted to other positions or retired, she said.

Kathleen Boehmer, former commander in the Town Hall district, was promoted to deputy chief of detectives.

Keith Calloway, former commander of detectives in the Calumet Area, was named deputy chief of the organized crime bureau.

Boemer and Calloway’s previous positions were eliminated in a department consolidation last month. McCarthy merged the Town Hall and Belmont districts and reduced the number of detective areas from five to three.

McCarthy also announced that Eddie Johnson, former commander of the Gresham district, has been promoted to deputy chief of patrol for the newly created Central Area.

As of Thursday, there have been 114 murders this year in Chicago — up 35 percent compared with the same period last year.

But department records also show that, through March 18, overall crime has dropped 10 percent throughout the city compared with the same period in 2011.

Because of the spike in gang-related murders this year, McCarthy previously announced he was putting together a comprehensive anti-gang strategy that includes getting patrol officers detailed information about gangs in their districts; keeping tactical officers in their districts to fight gang crime instead of assigning them to duties outside the district, and improving the exchange of gang intelligence among the patrol division, gang units and detectives.

The biggest skakeup in the Chicago Police Department in recent years occurred in 2008, when newly appointed Supt. Jody Weis swept out 21 of 25 district commanders and dipped into the ranks of district commanders to replace the first deputy and other top brass.

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