Friday, November 20, 2009

RIP - CPD Commander Donald Hilbring -Leo Hall of Famer

By Trevor Jensen - Chicago Tribune
Donald L. Hilbring taught school by day while also rising through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department, where he retired as a captain and district commander.

Mr. Hilbring, 62, died of pneumonia on Monday, Nov. 16, in Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said his brother William, a Chicago police detective. He was a resident of the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side.

The son of a police officer, Mr. Hilbring joined the Police Department's cadet program in 1966 and started as a patrol officer two years later. He was promoted to detective in 1971, and sergeant in 1977.

As his career bloomed, he also kept taking college classes. He received a bachelor's degree in business education from Chicago State University, a master's in public administration from Illinois Institute of Technology and another master's in corrections and criminal justice, also from Chicago State, his brother said.

While many police officers work second jobs in security or related fields, Mr. Hilbring moonlighted as a teacher until he reached the rank of lieutenant in 1984. He taught math and later served as disciplinarian at Jackson Elementary, and Tilden and Collins high schools.

"Donald always worked an afternoon or evening shift, and he'd get up in the morning and instead of just piddling around, he'd go to school," said retired police deputy superintendent James Whigham.

Mr. Hilbring's daughter Monique remembered trying to rouse her dad on Sundays when he was laid out on the floor with a newspaper, relaxing after a long week working two jobs.

"He'd be a little cranky. Now I understand," she said.

Mr. Hilbring made captain in 1988 and was commander of the Prairie District. From 1993 to 1997, he was commander of the Gang Investigation Unit, overseeing a major takedown of the Unknown Vice Lords street gang in 1994 and working closely with federal and state investigators.

"He was a man of compassion and very fine judgment," Whigham said.

In his final years on the force, he was a commander of the Wentworth District and then a watch commander in the South Chicago District. Like earlier assignments, they could be pressure-packed positions, but off the clock it never showed.

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