Chicago Police Chief of Patrol James Maurer, one of the department's most colorful leaders, is retiring and joining the city's Department of Aviation, where he will head security at O'Hare International and Midway Airports, city officials announced Thursday.
As chief of patrol, Maurer has been in charge of the city's largest police division--commanding 10,000 patrol and tactical officers throughout the city. The Police Department's airport units also were under Maurer's command.
Maurer, 58, said he knew rumors had been circulating for a long time that he might get the job, but he said he did not interview for the post until Wednesday. He said he was called Thursday morning and told Mayor Richard Daley approved the appointment.
Although he is excited about the job, Maurer, who once had ambitions of becoming police superintendent, had mixed emotions. He spent his entire career with the Police Department.
"It's really a bittersweet thing. I've been here 41 years," he said. "When I got up and told my staff, I could barely talk."
Maurer said he hoped to be working at the new job by mid-August.
A Police Department statement said, "Jim Maurer is a giant in law enforcement. ... We value all he has done for this city and for the brave men and women of this department. We look forward to working with him in his new role for the Department of Aviation."
The 250 airport security officers he will supervise are certified police officers, but they do not carry guns.
Aviation Department Commissioner John Roberson made the announcement Thursday afternoon, appointing Maurer as managing deputy commissioner of security and public safety for the Chicago Airport System.
Maurer's duties will include being the Aviation Department's liaison with the Police and Fire Departments, as well as all other state and federal law enforcement agencies. He will supervise the identification and access system that includes 45,000 airport ID badges.
Maurer's "experience and background makes him uniquely qualified to oversee the security operations of our airports," Roberson said.