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Joseph Perez, a 28-year veteran of the Illinois State Police Department, has been named chief of the Metra Police Department, Metra officials announced yesterday.Perez's hiring is a "major step" in Metra's efforts to reform and modernize its police department, agency officials said in a press release.Most recently, Perez was commander of the State Police Region 1, where he oversaw complex law enforcement activities and nearly 800 sworn officers and civilians in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and DeKalb counties. As a command officer for 14 years, he supervised patrol, investigative and specialty units, managed the training of rookie troopers, and planned the safety and security for several events, including the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, Metra officials said.Metra's police department reform process began in late 2012, when the agency hired Hillard Heintze, a nationally recognized law-enforcement advisory firm, to perform an in-depth assessment of the department's operations and capabilities, and provide assistance in adopting best practices in railroad public safety. Perez will be responsible for using the Hillard Heintze report, Metra officials said."I am confident that Chief Perez is the right man for the job," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno. "He has the experience and background we need to transform the department so that it is better prepared to ensure the safety and security of riders, staff, assets and infrastructure."