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Chicago Lawn (8th) District Commander Bryan Spreyne. --Photo by Lorena Paredes/lmpphotography.org

Chicago Lawn (8th) District Commander Bryan Spreyne. --Photo by Lorena Paredes/lmpphotography.org

New top cop in 8 outlines vision

People have a right to feel safe, commander says

By Tim Hadac

The new police commander in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District is assuring residents of his commitment to all communities in the district, including those on its far ends.

Commander Bryan Spreyne said he understands the unique needs of Clearing, Garfield Ridge, Ashburn, Scottsdale and other neighborhoods relatively far away from district headquarters at 63rd and Homan—and that’s why he says he is committed to beat integrity and similar concepts.

“I’m absolutely committed to it, he told the Greater Southwest News-Herald last week. “When you have a district as geographically large as 8, if you don’t have some sort of continuity to that, you’re really opening yourself up for trouble. [Clearing and Garfield Ridge are] so far away from everything else, you can’t pull resources out of there and expect to adequately cover that part of the district—and that’s not including, God forbid, you get a train blocking a crossing or you get a traffic tie-up because some of the arterial streets get clogged.

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Chicago Lawn (8th) District Commander Bryan Spreyne. –Photo by Lorena Paredes/lmpphotography.org

“That kind of a situation’s not only not safe for the community, it’s not safe for the officers,” he continued. “Say something happens in Beat 811, like an armed robbery or something like that. In that situation, you not only need police there to respond, you need backup units close by.”

Beat integrity is a policy originally implemented by the late Commander John Kupczyk more than a decade ago. It essentially requires that a minimum level of CPD units stay in or close to Beats 811 and 812 (Garfield Ridge and Clearing, west of Central Avenue).

Kupczyk’s decision was made in response to years’ worth of complaints by Clearing and Garfield Ridge residents that they rarely saw marked police units, and that 911 response times were abysmal because so many units were deployed in the high-crime, east end of the district.

Kupczyk’s move made him an instant favorite in the community; and since his death in late 2011, all five of his successors (David McNaughton, James O’Donnell, Ronald Pontecore, Brian McDermott and Frederick Melean) in one way or another vowed to maintain beat integrity.

“We’re all citizens. We’re all taxpayers, and we all have a fundamental right to be protected and feel safe in our own neighborhoods,” Spreyne added.

The new commander said he has inherited “a good situation, a fabulous staff” in the district. In the months ahead, he plans to start making the rounds of introductory meetings with community groups across the district.

He said he’s looking forward to it because he’s “basically a one-on-one guy. I prefer to talk with people face to face, rather than relying on emails or texts.”

A son of the Southwest Side

Spreyne grew up near 61st and Kedzie. He attended Nazareth Lutheran School at 60th and Spaulding, then Ashburn Lutheran School at 83rd and Homan. From there, he went to Marist High School, graduating in 1991.

As a teenager, he worked part-time at Holy Cross Hospital in a variety of jobs. It was there, in the emergency room, that he often encountered police officers and other first responders.

“One day, a paramedic told me that the Posen Police Department was hiring,” he recalled. He took the test, passed and was hired in 1995. He spent two years as a police officer there, but was then contacted by the Chicago Police Department. (He also had taken the CPD test.)

He left Posen and entered the CPD Academy. He began his duties on the streets of the Morgan Park (22nd) District in September 1997.

Over the years, he worked his way up, earning a promotion to sergeant. He served in the Eighth District from 2005 to 2020, when he earned a promotion again and served as a watch operations lieutenant in the Calumet (5th) District. Most recently, he served as a lieutenant for the CPD Community Safety Team (South).

He also has served as an officer with the Palos Park Police Department. PPPD Chief Joe Miller recently described Spreyne as “an approachable, open and collaborative leader always willing to seek out ways to help and keep the community safe.”

His promotion to commander in the Eighth District came a day before his 24th anniversary on the force. He replaced Frederick Melean, who had served as commander since July 2020 and was recently promoted to Deputy Chief of Area 1.

Spreyne holds a master’s degree in Public Safety Administration from Calumet College.

He once wore the same CPD star number that his father, Robert, wore before him for 30 years on the force. Today, he and Spreyne’s mother, JoAnn, are enjoying retirement in the greater Beverly area.

Spreyne himself lives in the Beverly area with his wife, Elizabeth, and sons, Matthew, Adam and Jack.

He is active as a community volunteer, serving on the Local School Council at Kellogg School, putting together father/son outings with the Y-Guides organization, and serving with the Father Perez Knights of Columbus Council 1444.

A self-described “car guy” who once considered a career as an auto mechanic, Spreyne put together a car and raced in the 5-0 at the Dirty “O” charity event this year at the Dirt Oval 66 race track in Joliet. The event raised about $300,000 for Special Olympics athletes across the state.

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