Rudy Nimocks: Portrait of a Seasoned Police Chief
By David Browne, J.D., Program Chair of Security Studies
An intense, fit, and energetic man enters the room. He engages the waiter with a warm smile, then turns and moving with military bearing, strides to the table. He extends his hand in a firm handshake and smiles again. This 83 year old force of nature and walking law enforcement encyclopedia is named, Rudy Nimocks and he has agreed to slow down for an hour, and have lunch with me.
Rudy Nimocks has taken the experience and knowledge that he developed in over five decades of service as a police officer, detective, and police executive to focus on partnerships in the community. Nimocks, who is widely known as a successful investigator, and police executive, has turned his formidable skills on the problems of at risk youth. Nimocks current duties range from sponsoring at risk youths at the University of Chicago, to creating partnerships between the University and the active, diverse, and eclectic community that surrounds it. Nimock’s smooth transition from his career as a Police Executive to community outreach leader proves that this driven and competitive powerhouse is still serving and protecting the community that he holds dear.
A Leader Emerges
Speaking of serving and protecting, no meeting with former Chief Rudy Nimocks, University of Chicago Police Department, and Chicago Police Department, retired, is complete without asking him about his experiences as a police officer, and police executive. Chief Nimocks started his police career in 1956, as a member of the City of Chicago’s Park District Police.
“The city had its own Police Department that patrolled the Parks. There were stations in all of the city’s major parks, and I was assigned to Washington Park. We handled police patrol and enforced the law in and around the city’s parks.” he explained. “In 1959 the Park District Police Department was disbanded, and all of the officers were absorbed into the Chicago Police Department.”
A Tough Beat
Nimocks advised that when he started out with the Chicago Police Department, he worked a beat along 43rd street that had a high number of taverns. Nimocks walked this beat alone, and dealt with disturbances, fights, and disagreements, without the benefit of a police radio, let alone a cell phone.
“We had a key, and if we needed assistance, we had to leave the scene, walk to a call box, and telephone the station for back up.” Nimocks advised that there was more respect for police officers then, adding that if you told someone to stay put, most of the time they did. Nimocks famous competitive spirit and boundless energy, along with several high profile arrests he made, meant that he was soon bound for the department’s detective bureau.
“I worked with two partners, and we consistently had the best solution and conviction rates of all the detectives in the Detective Bureau. “ As there were hardly any African American Detectives on the force, the success of the trio caused quite a stir amongst their counterparts.
“Every month we would be at the top of the list, in solving cases.” Nimocks said. “One day we walked in and the board that listed the solution and conviction rates was gone, and I asked where it was. I never got a solid answer, but I guess our success rubbed some people the wrong way!” Nimocks advised that his methods were simple, and solid, and that he could never understand why others didn’t copy them. Nimocks went out into the community, and talked to people. Through conversations, he formed relationships, and through these relationships, he gathered information.
“People knew that they could come to me, and that I would help them. As a police officer, I worked to put criminals in jail. In my current role, I have the opportunity to keep young people out of jail. I’m grateful for that.” As he speaks a smile grows across his face, “This has been an interesting and exciting journey.”
From experiencing segregation as a young soldier in the south during the 1940’s, achieving success as the first African American Chief of organized crime in the Chicago Police Department, solving the toughest cold cases, to being one of the strongest candidates for Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Rudy Nimocks has seen many things come to pass. Seeing a resident of his native Chicago become the nation’s first African American president is certainly one of the highlights of his years of service to the community. “This is an exciting time to be alive, and I look forward to the future, and all that I am accomplishing with these young people.” Still vibrant, still effective, he checks his watch and bolts up from the table, “I’ll be in the office late tonight making up for this long lunch!”
As we part I can’t help but turn and watch Chief Nimocks moving purposefully through the midday crowd, back to his office. It isn’t hard to imagine him as a rookie cop hot on the trail of some unlucky felon, but then I stop and remember the intensity of his words, and the smile on his face as he spoke them.
It seems right that Rudy Nimocks should be where he is, still serving his community with the same competitive drive, spirit and energy.
Do you know someone who has led a storied and inspirational career in criminal justice?
Image credit: The Chicago Maroon
David Browne, J.D., spent over 14 years as a Special Agent in the FBI and most recently as a Crime Analyst at the University of Chicago for six years. He earned a J.D. law degree from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Michigan. He is currently program chair of Security Studies at Colorado Technical University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.