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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

David Byrd Named DeKalb's Newest Police Chief

City of Dekalb
David Byrd at podium.

The search for DeKalb’s new police chief is finally over.



David Byrd is DeKalb’s newest police chief. The hiring of the Chicago native and 31-year veteran colonel with the Illinois State Police received no objections from DeKalb City Council.


City Manager Bill Nicklas supported Byrd’s nominations and said in a press release, "Our background work has revealed that he is a hands-on leader who prefers to meet and engage the communities he serves face-to-face, and in the locations and spaces where residents are most comfortable."


Before making his move to DeKalb official, Byrd worked extensively in northern Illinois. In his most recent post he served as the Illinois State Police’s Deputy Director of the Division of Patrol. He’s held several other titles with the state law enforcement including assistant deputy director for the Office of the Director and north region commander. 


The Community Search Committee reviewed 27 candidates which it then narrowed to two finalists. The two candidates then took part in a marathon day of interviews with two separate panels: first, with local law enforcement leaders from DeKalb county, Sycamore, and NIU; and second, with city employees.


Both candidates had hour-long interviews with Nicklas and the community search committee before back-to-back hour-long Q&As with officers from the DeKalb Police Department.


According to a press release from the City, Byrd was the community search committee's unanimous decision.


The DeKalb City Council’s selection of Byrd to Police Chief will represent the first person of color to lead the department in over 130 years since its founding.  


Byrd starts the job May 1.

  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.
Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.