CHICAGO (CBS) — You might not know Anthony Riccio’s name, but you likely know his face.
Riccio has served nine police superintendents in Chicago, and he has seen a lot over the years. But now, the Chicago police first deputy superintendent is retiring.
He sat down with CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov on Tuesday for a conversation about crime and race in Chicago.
“The first thing I want to do is just be retired for a little while,” Riccio said.
Riccio has been a Chicago Police officer for 34 years, since Harold Washington was mayor. He rose through the ranks, and is leaving the department just as new Supt. David Brown immerses himself in his own role.
Kozlov: “You’re retiring at a very tumultuous time as well for the Chicago Police Department when it comes to Black communities and the relationship with police departments in Chicago and around the country – charges of systemic racism. What are your thoughts on that?”
Riccio: “We need to be more of guardians than we are occupiers.”
Riccio believes Supt. Brown’s new policing plan – creating a specialized unit to blanket violent neighborhoods and establish community relationships and trust – could help accomplish that, and reduce shootings and murders – especially those done in retaliation.
“We can take those officers and put them in the area and stop the retaliation, and the back-and-forth that goes on that really drives up the violence and traps people in their homes, so I think that’s going to be a huge success,” Riccio said.
Riccio points to past initiatives involving CPD and community relationships that contributed to a three-year violent crime decrease at the end of last decade. Still, these are tumultuous and often trust-less times.
Kozlov: “What is you message to the rank-and-file – many, who I mentioned, feel vilified; feel they’ve been beaten up; who feel overwhelmed, and who may not want to be part of this group who is going to have boots on the ground in these neighborhoods? What’s your message to them?”
Riccio: “I understand their cautious approach. I totally get that. But I think inside every officer is that desire to do the right thing.”
Supt. Brown wants to have about 200 officer assigned to the new unit this month. It will include officers taking part in prayer circles and food delivery for those who need it.
Riccio officially retires Aug. 1, and is one of several high-ranking department members to leave the department in the past year.