James O'Grady has been a leader in Illinois law enforcement for over thirty-two years. With command assignments with the Illinois State Police, the Chicago Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Harwood Heights Police Department, he has committed his life to public safety. He has experience in all facets of law enforcement including patrol, investigations, administration, and internal investigations. He has a wide network of professional and personal relationships with most Illinois law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Illinois Sheriff's Association.
He began his career in law enforcement with the Chicago Police Department in 1986. First assigned to the West side of Chicago as a patrol officer, his work ethic and ability to work well as part of a team were quickly noted. His subsequent assignments include Gang Investigations, the Internal Affairs Division, and as an undercover investigator with the Organized Crime Division. While working full time, he attended law school at night graduating with honors in 2001.
Promoted to Sergeant in 1998, he served in the Patrol Division, Narcotics Division, and as Commanding Officer of the Office of Legal Affairs. Shot twice in the line of duty in 1999, he was a finalist for the highest award of the Chicago Police Department-The Carter Harrison/Lambert Tree Award for Valor. In 2005, he was selected to lead an elite D.E.A. Federal Task Force Team working on cartel-level narcotics trafficking in the Chicagoland area. Promoted in 2006 to lieutenant, he commanded the Asset Forfeiture Unit, an investigative unit responsible for the seizure and forfeiture of the assets of narcotics traffickers. In 2008, he was promoted to Commander of the Narcotics Division, which is comprised of over three hundred investigators, federal agents, and support staff. Working hard to develop relationships with federal partners,community stakeholders, and other city agencies, the Narcotics Division substantially contributed to a historic reduction in violence and open-air drug markets in the city. In addition, he established a training program for the obtaining and execution of search warrants and the conducting of covert investigations. Over three thousand officers, troopers, deputies, and federal agents have attended his classes since 2006.
After retiring from the Chicago Police Department, he served as Chief of Police for the Village of Harwood Heights. In this position, he was responsible for reorganizing the Department to improve efficiency and accountability. During his tenure, the Village experienced lower crime rates and increased community interaction and engagement. He also assisted in negotiating two collective bargaining agreements between the Village and both sworn and non-sworn employees. As an experienced grant writer and attorney, he drafted several successful grant applications resulting in awards of patrol vehicles, equipment, and funds for training. Working with Village leadership, he was able to increase manpower for the Department's Detective Unit in order to solve serious crimes and increase community satisfaction with the Department.
In 2015, the Director of the Illinois State Police asked Mr. O'Grady to assist him by becoming the second in command of the ISP. As Chief of Policy, Mr. O'Grady's responsibilities included reorganizing the Legal Office of the ISP, achieving the highest level of CALEA certification possible, and reviewing all policies and procedures of the agency. Other duties included reviewing all disciplinary matters resulting in suspensions of five days or more, the approval of all media releases, and the drafting of agreements between the ISP and other law enforcement agencies and governmental entities. He has assisted in drafting the ISP budget, which is over 500 million dollars and has prepared reports and documents for presentation to the Illinois Legislature for the last three years.
Jim O'Grady's many years of law enforcement experience have allowed him to work as General Counsel for a Chicago-based, federal task force under the Department of Justice, Office of National Drug Control Policy, which conducts complex, international criminal conspiracy investigations. He managed strategic projects for presentation to Congress and worked with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney's Office on a daily basis.