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AURORA CHIEF OF POLICE TO RETIRE | Her Heartfelt Letter Was Shared In Social Media On Monday


It was announced today by Aurora's Police Chief Kristen Ziman that her last working day at Aurora Police Department will be on August 6, 2021.

Born and raised on the west side of Aurora, Ziman is a graduate of West Aurora High School and started as a Police Cadet at the Aurora Police Department in 1991. She joined the Aurora Police force in 1994 as a sworn officer and worked in patrol, field training, community policing and investigations as a domestic violence detective before being promoted to sergeant in 2003. She was promoted to lieutenant in 2008 and to commander in 2010 and was named Police Chief in 2016.

Kristen earned her Associates Degree from Waubonsee Community College in 1994. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Aurora University and a Master’s Degree from Boston University. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy #249. She completed the Kellogg Women’s Senior Leadership Program at Northwestern University, Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP). Kristen obtained her second Master’s Degree in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

According to her Aurora Police Department website profile, her passion is writing and she has been a columnist for the Chicago Tribune Beacon News since 2008. She also is a blogs about police-related topics and her blog has been featured by the Illinois Association of Chief’s of Police (IACP) and among the top police blogs. The Aurora resident shared in her post announcing her retirement that she looks forward to planning new adventures. Her letter is as follows:

Team Aurora,

On July 29th, I will have completed my 30th year working at the Aurora Police Department. I started as a police cadet in 1991, so I have grown up (both literally and figuratively) in the police department. I never imagined that one day I would have the privilege of serving as the 41st police chief of the Aurora Police Department.

I have had a fantastic career serving you and our officers, which is why it is bittersweet that I announce my retirement. My last working day will be August 6th.

When I became chief, I had a robust list of things I wanted to accomplish. The first was to put together a team of individuals who brought a diversity of culture and thought to the team. Together we were able to progress our police department in many ways. We updated our antiquated policies and implemented a consistent system of accountability. We changed how we resolved crime problems by focusing on relentless action and follow-up that led to crime reduction. We stopped counting tickets and arrests and punishing officers for not making them and concentrated instead on positive outcomes. We made this department the most diverse it has ever been in its 186-year history.

Technology is my passion because I believe it enhances the way we police, so we’ve added virtual reality training technology, drones that help search for missing people, and a real-time crime center that will be completed just in time for me to ride off into the sunset.

The most significant achievement has been in building relationships in the community. I set a goal of community engagement that I knew would be hard to quantify, but I did it anyway. Our officers and our caring citizens have come together on so many occasions to solve problems and combat crime. And that engagement will continue long after I walk out the door.

My career has been a journey of peaks and valleys and the worst day of my professional life was the mass shooting where five people were killed, and five of my officers were shot. The second worst day of my career was when a peaceful protest turned violent, and our downtown was looted and burned. Those moments were excruciating, but they made our police department and our community more resilient because iron sharpens iron. Strength and resilience are built in moments that test us.

My mission was to create a culture in our police department where officers felt comfortable bringing their passion, compassion, and vulnerability to their position. I have asked them to show up exactly as who they are because their human side is revealed when they are their authentic selves. Humanity manifests trust, and trust builds legitimacy. More importantly, I wanted to permit my officers to ask for help when needed. Our officer’s mental health and well-being have been my highest priority because I understood that we need to care for those caring for the community.

I am leaving this police department in good hands. I have built a very deep bench of talent, and there are many skilled individuals who will step in and take over where I left off. I hope that I have knocked down doors for others to walk through.

I am fortunate that several opportunities have come my way, and I’m also pursuing some new adventures of my own. I will be taking this time to decide exactly what is next for me.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the love and support you have given our police department and me during the great times and the horrific ones. It has been the most incredible privilege and honor of my life to serve as your police chief, and no matter where my journeys take me, Aurora will always be my home.

Take care of yourselves and each other.

Onward and upward,

Chief Kristen Ziman


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