Metra picks state police veteran to reform its PD

Metra administrators hope an Illinois State Police administrator with experience in the field as a trooper and investigator can point their police force in the right direction.

Former Illinois State Police District 1 Cmdr. Joseph M. Perez is the new Metra police chief, Executive Director Don Orseno announced Monday. His focus will be transforming the department into a modern, efficient and effective unit, officials said.

Perez most recently was ISP District 1 commander, which includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and DeKalb counties. He started as a state trooper in 1986, as served on the SWAT team and was a special agency on a Lake County auto theft task force.

After being promoted to sergeant, he worked on a unit that investigated gangs and drugs and managed a squad that focused on violent and felony crimes in the Chicago area.

Perez also was captain of District 15, which comprises the Illinois tollway, and handled a $28.7 million budget. He has experience as a police instructor and in handling major events, including the NATO summit in 2012.

In January, a consultant's report showed the department lacked training, didn't interact with riders and spent excessively on overtime. Among the problems were inadequate organization and communication, the study showed.

But Metra is also still trying to figure out its mission for the police department and how to balance protecting passengers and property.

Perez's salary will be $161,066.

The department is responsible for all Metra lines; the Union Pacific and BNSF Railroads each use their own police force.

Perez lives in McHenry.

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