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Programs continue for NIU police

DeKALB – In the wake of Northern Illinois University Police Chief Donald Grady’s termination, NIU police leaders are rolling out new exchange programs with DeKalb police and a new operations manual.

Leaders have no firm timeline for announcing a permanent police chief, but Acting Director of Public Safety Bill Nicklas gave NIU President John Peters a verbal report on his review of police personnel and policies last month.

“There will be some more permanent determination possibly by the end of the semester,” Nicklas said.

Nicklas placed Grady and Lt. Kartik Ramakrishnan on paid leave Nov. 10, shortly after Nicklas was placed in that position and eight days after a local judge ruled Ramakrishnan intentionally withheld from prosecutors evidence favorable to a former NIU police officer accused of raping a student off-duty and off-campus.

Grady was fired Feb. 19, while Ramakrishnan remains on leave.

Meanwhile, NIU police joined the county’s major case squad in December. NIU Acting Police Chief Darren Mitchell sits on the squad’s board and NIU police officers he nominated for the squad were accepted without issue.

Mitchell and Nicklas also have tried to forge stronger relationships with DeKalb police. Both departments have experienced leadership changes within the past year. DeKalb police recently promoted two commanders, and aside from Nicklas and Mitchell, NIU police have two new lieutenants and a new head of investigations.

NIU police sergeants regularly attend DeKalb police’s roll-call meetings to exchange information about cases and projects.

“It’s that constant communication and collaboration of goals and what’s trying to be accomplished,” acting Police Chief Darren Mitchell said.

Nicklas and Mitchell expect to roll out the NIU police department’s new operations manual within a few weeks so leaders can begin training department personnel on the 800-page document.

Mitchell also meets weekly with DeKalb Police Chief Eugene Lowery.

The two departments plan to start a detective exchange program – in which an NIU police detective works with DeKalb police detectives, and vice versa – in this month. A similar exchange of patrol officers is expected to follow that program and joint training programs are planned for this summer.

Police leaders also have been discussing joint training exercises with NIU and DeKalb police this summer, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said it has been a “refreshing, encouraging delight” to work with other police leaders throughout the county as they have been open with both advice and assistance in recent weeks.

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