Patrick Connolly – Urbana, Illinois’ New Police Chief

The Brass Key | September 16, 2010 | Comments (0)

Soon-to-be police Chief Patrick Connolly said he does not have any big changes planned for the department in the immediate future after the city council Monday night confirmed his appointment as Urbana’s top cop.

Last week, current Chief Mike Bily publicly announced he would retire on Sept. 22, a decision he said was actually made last year. Bily is ending a 26-year career with the Urbana Police Department, and a four-year run as chief.

“This is the final step in a long planned exit,” Bily said Monday.

Connolly has served as assistant chief since 2006, when Bily was named police chief. Connolly began working as a patrol officer with the Urbana police in 1988 and has served in various capacities since that time.

“Ultimately, we need to get our law enforcement strength back to 100 percent,” Connolly said of his goals, though doing so could be tough with police vacancies and a tight budget cycle for the city.

The assistant chief of police carries out many of the same duties as the chief, Bily said, a job description that should have provided Connolly with adequate training for his new role.

“He has seen and experienced and participated in many of the things that have made this department successful,” Bily said.

Bily, who will turn 50 on the day he retires, said he has always planned on leaving at a young enough age to pursue personal interests.

“It was simple a question of when was the best time for the department and the best time for me personally,” Bily said.

In other business, the council delayed until October a decision on whether to designate the Lincoln Hotel a local historic landmark.

Marine Bank in Springfield, the owner of the hotel, has been courting potential purchasers for the hotel, said Daniel Lanterman, an attorney for the bank. While there is no telling when or to whom the hotel could be sold, he said a landmark designation carries with it a stigma that could make the hotel less attractive to buyers.

“This is a challenging property to sell,” Lanterman said.

City officials have been considering since April whether to give the hotel the special designation, which would protect the building’s historical value and its Tudor revival-style architecture. Further delaying the decision until October would give potential buyers a voice in the process, but Lanterman said he could not guarantee whether anything would change in a month.

“It’s time to make a decision on this,” said Alderman Charlie Smyth, “and hopefully we come to some kind of conclusion in October.”

Source:  Patrick Wade, News-Gazette

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Category: The New Chief

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