Chicago Lt. becomes police chief

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, August 27, 2014
He may be moving from Chicago, but Kevin Gyrion is rearing and ready to go as police chief in the small town of West Liberty.

"Everyone says I'll be bored, but I don't think I will," he said. "It's a different kind of police work, it's going to be more community based than I'm used to, but it also has the potential to be more rewarding."

He'll officially begin Sept. 1, replacing Interim Police Chief Jeff Morrison. Morrison has been filling the vacancy since July in order to let the city conclude its search.

"The police work is the same, but you have more of a chance of an immediate impact and results than you do in a big metropolitan area," said the Chicago native. "Here I'll get to see the results of my work."

Gyrion has been driving to West Liberty every week ever since he landed the job, spending his time getting the lay of the land and meeting the officers.

He's excited to become a part of the community, from its school system to its every day operation, Gyrion says he'll be focusing on increasing the WLPD's role in the community.

He recently retired from the Chicago Police Force as a Lieutenant after 27 years of service. The 51-year-old is married to Karen and has four children, two of which still live at home.

Gyrion started with the Chicago Police Department as a patrol officer in April of 1987, following in the footsteps of his father, a man who retired as a Chicago Sergeant after 33 years of service.

Since his start Gyrion has done a little bit of everything in the Windy City, he was a gang crime officer, narcotics investigator, homicide detective, sergeant, and finally, lieutenant.

"Throw in there that I was a mounted police officer for five years," he added. Gyrion is a serious man coated in quick wit.

Born and raised on the streets of Chicago, Gyrion had envisioned one day becoming a police chief in another town. It just so happened that West Liberty was looking for one.

"I reached a point in my Chicago police career where I achieved what I wanted, I realized I wanted to expand into police chief work," he said.

After several years of service, former WL Police Chief P.J. Brewer retired, a position the city originally filled with Lawrence McNaul last July. However, McNaul took over the role of city manager, leaving the position vacant once again.

Gyrion is West Liberty's most recent solution to fill the position, which has seemed to be in flux over the past year. He's ready to take McNaul's work and expand it further.

"I think Lawrence has done a lot of things, initially, that I want to expand on. The reserve program is one of them," he said. "People that want to get their feet wet in police work as a volunteer are perfect candidates to be policemen."

He also wants to increase the WL Police Department's role at the schools, like sending officers to the campuses more often.

The goal is to not only increase safety, but put a positive face on the force. More often than not, youth collide with police in a bad way. Gyrion aims to change that.

"I've already had meetings with some of the police officers and I made it plain to them that I expect the police department, going forward, to be active members of the community," he said. "That includes attending sports events, school events and checking into the school at least three times a week."

Exactly how does he feel about being a Chicago P.D. retiree?

"Every year we have a physical fitness test that we have to go through, plus I run and I exercise…I don't think my age will be a big thing, I mean, I've chased a lot of bad guys up, even up to last week," he added jokingly.

"Drug dealers in Chicago, as well as car thieves, are all pretty fast, and they can jump fences really good."
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