Rudy Nimocks has spent a lifetime blazing new trails, so it seemed only natural when the City of Chicago gave Nimocks a special award as part of his induction into the city’s prestigious Senior Citizen Hall of Fame.
This year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held earlier this month, was the last for former Mayor Richard M. Daley, so the city’s Department of Family & Support Services created an award to be given in Daley’s name to an inductee with an exemplary career in public service. Officials say they knew almost immediately that the recipient should be Nimocks, the University’s longtime police chief and current director of community partnerships.
“The decision took no time at all,” agency spokeswoman Dawn Hughes said about awarding Nimocks the inaugural Richard M. Daley Government Service Award.
A resident of the Woodlawn neighborhood for more than half a century—where he was one of the original Board members of the Southside YMCA and helped lead several other community groups—Nimocks spent 32 years on the city police force. There, he was the first African American to hold several positions, including citywide commander in the homicide section, chief of the organized crime division, and deputy of administrative services. He eventually achieved the rank of deputy superintendent before retiring from the force to become chief of the University of Chicago Police Department.
During Nimocks' 20-year tenure with the UCPD, he initiated community policing and outreach efforts in neighboring communities such as Kenwood and Woodlawn that are credited with significantly reducing crime rates on campus and beyond.
In 2009, Nimocks received the United States Secret Service agency’s Director’s Honors Award for outstanding assistance and support on behalf of the investigative and protective responsibilities related to President Barack Obama, a former University law school lecturer and Kenwood homeowner. That same year, Nimocks became the University’s Director of Community Partnerships, spearheading efforts to focus University and community resources toward helping grassroots groups revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the social and educational support systems.
“I spent the first 40 years of my career putting young people in jail,” Nimocks said. “Now I’m determined to find every way possible to keep them out.“ The majority of his efforts right now focus on the education committee of the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community, fashioned after New York’s highly successful Harlem Children’s Zone and its stated mission to end the cycle of generational poverty.
In a community where half of all high school students drop out before graduating, Nimocks said, “education is the key to giving young people a sense of self-worth and a vision of the future for themselves.” WCPC supports both students and families with wrap-around services that extend from preschool through college. The group is applying for a federal grant this fall that could reap as much as $25 million over five years.
Chicago’s 20th Ward Alderman Willie B. Cochran, who nominated Nimocks for the Hall of Fame and worked under him both for the city and the University police departments, said Nimocks' trailblazing ideas of community-centered law enforcement and education today extend beyond the campus and even beyond the city. “These ideas are now becoming the hallmark of communities across the country.”
The Hall of Fame was created in 1962 by the administration of Daley’s father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, to honor Chicago residents of age 60 and older whose outstanding professional and social contributions improved the lives of others and their communities.
Nimocks said he is gratified to have played a part in programs having such tangible effects on people’s lives, and the tireless octogenarian says each success simply inspires him to try to think of new and better ways to enhance public safety and well being. “Every time I get something accomplished,” he says, “I’m invigorated to do something else.”