Alumnus becomes first African-American officer promoted to sergeant in DeKalb

Officer Keunte Mallet and his wife Heather and son before his pinning ceremony for his promotion to sergeant during the Jan. 28 City Council meeting at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — Officer Keunte Mallett, who is also an NIU alumnus, became the first African-American officer to be promoted to sergeant in the history of the DeKalb Police Department during a pinning ceremony Jan. 28 at the City Council meeting.

Mallett was promoted to the position of sergeant, effective Jan. 3, and has served with the DeKalb Police Department since November as an acting supervisor following the retirement of former Sergeant Tom Petit, according to the Jan. 28 City Council meeting agenda.

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery said the pinning ceremony gives everyone the opportunity to get to know the individual being promoted.

“[Mallett has] done an excellent job,” Lowery said. “His work has shown in many recent cases as well.”

Mallett graduated in 2002 with a degree in psychology and sociology and an emphasis in criminal justice. A career with NIU Police and Public Safety followed, and in 2007, Mallett became a police officer for the city of DeKalb.

Mallett said he wanted to become a police officer simply because he wanted to help people.

“I’m from Bellwood, Illinois, and in my neighborhood, you went from having your bike in your backyard and not worrying about it, to getting it stolen,” Mallett said. “It made me want to go out there and stop the thieves and bad people and, overall, help the community.”

Since Mallett joined the DeKalb police force, he’s served in the Patrol Division while participating in the domestic violence unit and as a high school resource officer.

Lowery said Mallett has also been a field training officer, a coveted position, as the department only wants the best officers to take the position of training other police officers.

Mallett is also a defensive tactics instructor and currently serves on the special operations team.

Mallett said he feels he is no different than anyone else after becoming the first African-American to be promoted to the position in DeKalb.

“There were only two African-American officers working for DeKalb when I first started,” Mallett said. “I would’ve done the same job no matter what and helping people the best I can.”

Lowery said he takes the opportunity every time the department hires someone or promotes someone to speak at the pinning ceremony about the duties of an officer.

“As a leader, you’re responsible for the men and women who are out there serving this community and the decisions they have to make. [They’re decisions] most folks wouldn’t like to make,” Lowery said.

Mallett said, he’s looking forward to molding young officers into better investigators and great officers.

“Sometimes police officers get a bad reputation from a video online,” Mallett said. “That’s not the case. I just want to be able to help young officers and make them always want to do the right thing and keep the community safe.”

Lowery said Mallett should stand by the four pillars of leadership now that he has been promoted: to honor the oath taken as an officer, focus on the mission, follow the motto, service over self and to leave the police department better than he found it.

Mayor Jerry Smith congratulated Mallett for his promotion and said he is looking forward to Mallet’s future as a sergeant.

“Congratulations to Sergeant Mallett,” Smith said. “It’s been great to have you here, and thank you for your many associates who have come over [to the pinning ceremony] and extended their congratulations to you; thank you very much.”