That was quick!
About three days after Chicago police leaders assigned a commander with questionable priorities to temporarily lead the downtown police district, the department named a permanent replacement.
The Central (1st) District commander position became available earlier this month when decorated CPD veteran Jacob Alderden was unceremoniously demoted to captain and reassigned to a unit that takes police reports over the phone.
Alderden was jettisoned after he refused to assign district patrol cars to sit outside a Loop restaurant favored by CPD Supt. David Brown and other political heavyweights, according to multiple sources.
Two sources said a restaurant employee mentioned to Brown last month that a series of “large group” incidents were impacting businesses in the area. Brown reportedly told Alderden to post one of the district’s scarce patrol cars outside Remington’s, 20 North Michigan. But Alderden balked at that idea and found himself working at a new location with a lower rank.
On Tuesday, we reported that Cmdr. Darrell Spencer was taking over as acting commander of the district. We pointed out that Spencer has a history of using CPD resources for questionable purposes.
When he was commander of the West Side’s Harrison District in April 2020, he ordered cops to disperse groups of more than 10 people and check the IDs of anyone who wanted to enter four specific blocks in the district. Spencer just happened to own a three-flat home on one of those blocks, the Sun-Times reported.
Just hours after CPD confirmed Spencer’s new role for our report, we received a message via social media: “Your article worked. Trish Zuber is being promoted to 1st District commander tomorrow morning.” And that’s exactly what happened.
Officers in the district were told Wednesday morning Lt. Patricia Zuber, a well-respected 29-year veteran who was already assigned to work in the district, had been promoted to run the show.
Zuber has worked in the 1st District “for years as a lieutenant and gained indispensable knowledge of the area,” Brown said in a press statement Wednesday afternoon. Zuber has also worked in three of the department’s detective divisions, Brown said.
In separate press conferences Monday, reporters asked both Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Brown about the reasons for Alderden’s surprising demotion and reassignment. Lightfoot, who could have simply answered the question, told reporters to “dig a little deeper.”
A Sun-Times reporter tried to “dig a little deeper” by asking Brown about Alderden’s demotion at a separate press conference that afternoon. Brown refused to answer. As Brown walked away from the lectern, a different reporter asked him directly about our report that Alderden’s ouster was caused by his refusal to assign a patrol car to sit outside Remington’s.
Brown stopped in his tracks and returned to the microphone. Then, he denied that he has a “favorite restaurant” despite living in Chicago for over a year, and he said he doesn’t eat steak, preferring blackened salmon.
He didn’t address the patrol cars that are posted outside Remington’s daily, nor did he deny that Alderden’s demotion and reassignment came after the former commander refused to order police resources to sit outside the restaurant.
Remington’s management has not responded to messages seeking comment for our reporting.
By the way, their salmon entree, “simply grilled, lemon butter, asparagus,” is available for $28.