Interim Rockford Fire, Police chiefs announced

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford’s Fire and Police Commission announced the interim Fire Department and Police Department chiefs Wednesday morning.

Randy Berke will serve as Interim Police Chief and Bob Vertiz will serve as Interim Fire Chief.

Fire Chief Derek Bergsten and Police Chief Dan O’Shea both announced their departures earlier this year.

“It’s an end of an era but a rebuilding period for the city of Rockford I mean great opportunities there’s a lot of quality people that work both in the police and fire department and they’ll pick great chiefs for both places to replace Derek and me,” said Chief O’Shea.

“Both Chief Bergsten and Chief O’Shea have done a fantastic job developing the leadership skill of their teams during their tenures,” said Sam Schmitz of the Fire and Police Commission. “I believe Chief Vertiz and Chief Berke will be able to seamlessly step into these new roles, while the Commission conducts a national search for permanent replacements.”

Chief Vertiz begins on May 8. Vertiz has been with the Rockford Fire Department for nearly 32 years.

Since 2018, he has held the position of Division Chief of Training. Chief Vertiz previously held the position of EMS Coordinator. He is a lifelong Rockford resident.

Chief Berke has been with the Rockford Police Department for 27 years. He will begin on May 1.

Berke currently serves as the Assistant Deputy Chief over Police District 2. Chief Berke is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy and has served on the SWAT team for 24 years.

Chief Bergsten says he agrees with the choice of Bob Vertiz for his temporary successor.

“He’ll do an incredible job he’s been with the department for over 30 years has seen the department advance and institute new changes that he was a part of. He’s very dedicated to this community and he’ll do an excellent job filling the interim role,” said Bergsten.

Vertiz says he is excited to step up to the challenge.

“I will be retiring in July of this year it’s kind of the Cherry on top of my whole career. I just plan on keeping the momentum going on projects the chief has started – keep us on the rails. Hopefully, we’ll have a nice smooth ride with this but be ready for any challenges that do occur,” said Vertiz.

Chief Berke has been a resident of Rockford since he was hired by the department in 1994.

“It’s a fantastic decision by the commissioners. I feel very confident the department will be in great hands under Randy Burke for the next 60 to 120 days whatever it may be until they pick the next chief that comes in,” said O’Shea.

“I appreciate the hard work of the three citizens on the Fire and Police Commission,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “After selecting Interim Chiefs, they now begin an even more difficult task of launching national searches for two chief positions simultaneously. I know the commissioners are committed to finding the very best candidates to serve our community.”

The Fire and Police Commission is led by Rockford residents Sam Schmitz, Ingrid Hargrove, and Rudy Valdez.

Those who apply for the permanent positions are not eligible for the interim positions per Fire and Police Commission requirements

While both O’Shea and Bergsten close these chapters in their lives, they look forward to Rockford’s future.

“I think it’s the next step for someone to leave their fingerprint on the organization to institute their changes and their vision and I think it’s an opportunity to continue it’s the end to a new beginning,” said Bergsten.

The commission announced that they hired Industrial/Organization Solutions (IOS) to help with the recruitment and selection process.

IOS has recently helped many municipalities with similar searches, including Austin, TX, Oak Park, IL, Omaha, NE and Sidney, OH.

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