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NIU begins search for new campus police chief

Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 10:39 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 11:02 p.m. CDT
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(Kyle Bursaw file photo – news@daily-chronicle.com)
Northern Illinois University announced a national search to find a new police chief.
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(Provided photo)
Bill Nicklas, NIU vice president for Public Safety and Community Relations.

DeKALB – The search is on for a new police chief at Northern Illinois University.

NIU officials said Tuesday that they are ready to launch a national search for a new chief of police for the DeKalb campus, with plans to have a new leader in place by the start of the fall semester.

Candidate interviews should start in late July, giving the university about three months to find its new chief of police.

Bill Nicklas, vice president of public safety, said the new department head will need to possess a few qualities in particular.

"The chief has to be a teacher, a leader and an expert in campus law enforcement," he said.

The search comes months after the university's former police chief, Donald Grady, was fired for his department's mismanagement of the rape charges against former officer Andrew Rifkin.

Darren Mitchell has been NIU's acting police chief since Grady's was dismissed Feb. 19. Nicklas said he was unsure if Mitchell was interested in the permanent role.

Despite the challenges the NIU police have faced in the past few months with Grady's claims of racism and the FBI serving a federal search warrant, the department has been working to move forward.

They recently produced a new operations manual looking at how and why the department enforces different aspects of the law. Officers also have been co-policing the community with the DeKalb Police Department and building rapport with residents, Nicklas said.

"It's not enough to just be seen in a uniform in a vehicle," Nicklas said. "You need to be able to connect with people."

The department has 63 sworn officers, but Nicklas said based on trends from similar campuses, he'd like to reduce that number to 60 through attrition over time. That would leave the department with three officers per 1,000 students, which is the national standard, he said.

Nicklas said the ideal profile of the new police chief position will be reviewed with a search committee, but they are looking for someone who can fulfill the unique mission of the university's police department.

"[The new chief] should be a cop's cop, who is steeped in diplomacy and prepared at any time to work with colleagues in other departments on campus," he said.

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