EAST CHICAGO — Hector Rosario said Wednesday he was ecstatic to be appointed police chief after an 18-year career with the department.
"I never would have imagined it. It's a great, great feeling that the mayor chose me," Rosario said. "I can't wait to serve the citizens of East Chicago."
Rosario, who had been serving at deputy police chief since last year, began his career at age 18 as a police cadet.
He became a 911 dispatcher for the city at age 21 and was hired as a police officer a year later, he said. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2015 and earned the rank of lieutenant this year.
Rosario has held various positions within the department, including field training officer, bicycle patrol and information technology intelligence officer.
Rosario's goals include maintaining the lower crime rates the city has seen in recent years and increasing the department's community-oriented policing efforts.
He'd like to bring back community walks, bicycle patrols and open houses for the business community — initiatives started under former Police Chief Mark Becker. Coffee with a Cop events will continue, Rosario said.
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Mayor Anthony Copeland said in a news release Rosario will lead the department in a "new direction."
"Mayor Copeland is confident in his decision in selecting Hector Rosario as police chief and believes that his experience, knowledge and leadership skills will be an example to future officers of this department," city spokesman Steve Segura said in a release. "He is an outstanding police officer and will represent the Police Department and city with integrity and professionalism."
Rosario said former Police Chief Frank Smith will remain with the department. Smith was appointed police chief in April 2016, following Becker's departure.
Rosario said he plans to announce his deputy chief and other changes to command staff Friday.
A department Facebook page was launched about two weeks ago, and residents should expect to see regular posts, he said.