Sweeney, Brad 0217

Sweeney

DECATUR – Brad Sweeney, who began his stint as chief of the Decatur Police Department early last year, was relieved of his duties Thursday.

City Manager Tim Gleason announced his decision in a news release. Gleason said he would not have any additional comments because it was a personnel matter.

Deputy Police Chief James Getz, who has been serving as head of the patrol division, was appointed as interim chief.

Getz recently served as acting chief for about 12 weeks, as Sweeney received training at the FBI National Academy, and then took two weeks vacation to catch up with his family. Sweeney returned to work Jan. 4. He completed the prestigious FBI session in December.

Sweeney, 43, was sworn in as police chief Jan. 3, 2015, replacing Todd Walker, who retired a few months earlier. Sweeney was selected by then-City Manager Ryan McCrady.

Sweeney, a Decatur native, recently told a group of grade school children that he first met a police officer when he was about 9 years old, and that's when he made up his mind that he wanted to become an officer.

He spent his entire law enforcement career with the Decatur Police Department after he was hired in May 1995. Sweeney moved steadily up the promotions ladder after serving 11 years as a patrol officer, working on all three shifts. He was a member of the Emergency Response Team and coordinator of the Bike Patrol unit.

The department has about 160 officers.

During his career, Sweeney served as a master patrol officer, patrol sergeant and lieutenant with the professional standards bureau. He earned academic degrees from Richland Community College and the University of Illinois, Springfield.

Sweeney, a popular chief with officers and community members, opened new avenues of communication while strengthening others.

As a patrol officer Sweeney noticed that six-day work weeks took a toll on officers’ health and family relationships. Officers were grateful when he took action to make their work weeks a little less burdensome. In May, he shortened the work weeks to five days, while lengthening shifts to 8 1/2 hours.

“We immediately saw a reduction in overtime, a reduction in people calling in sick, especially on that sixth day,” Sweeney said in a Herald & Review interview last year. “This was a huge morale boost for the police department.”

In the wake of incidents involving police such as in Ferguson, Mo., Sweeney formed a response team with the Decatur branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to try to prevent violence and foster understanding.

Sweeney implemented Coffee with a Cop events to meet face to face with constituents. He attended many of the gatherings himself. He instituted departmentwide email addresses and strengthened the department's online presence on Facebook, Twitter and a new website, dpdconnect.com.

He recently bolstered the department's K-9 unit to 4 teams, one K-9 team for each patrol shift, as well as one assigned to the Street Crimes Unit.

Sweeney was not immediately available for comment.

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer for the Herald & Review.