NIU names new police chief

Campus Police

By Kelly Bauer

Tom Phillips will be NIU’s new chief of police starting Sept. 16.

Phillips, who was not available to comment Wednesday, was a deputy chief at the University of Chicago Police Department. He will be introduced to the Board of Trustees as its meeting Thursday. He replaces Darren Mitchell, who was named NIU’s acting police chief following the dismissal of Don Grady.

“I plan on working closely with the students, faculty and staff for their input, ideas and support in making constructive changes in NIU police service,” Phillips said, according to NIU. “Additionally, I will reach out to local law enforcement leaders to confirm of our commitment to proactive partnerships in the surrounding communities.”

Bill Nicklas, vice president of Public Safety and Community Relations, wanted to hire a chief who has had a “distinguished career in law enforcement,” is familiar with a community policing model, has operational experience and who can collaborate with other units on campus.

NIU used Voorhees Associates LLC to conduct the police chief search, and received almost 80 applicants from “qualified individuals.” Stakeholder groups representing students, faculty, local law enforcement and NIU diversity centers, among others, were able to interview finalists during the second week of August.

The NIU Police Department has 61 full-time sworn officers, 11 full-time telecommunicators, 15 full-time guards, 18 part-time residence hall attendants, numerous part-time student Huskie Patrol employees and a Late Night Ride Service, according to NIU.

Grady was fired in February because “of the failure of the NIU Police Department of Public Safety (the ‘Department’) to disclose and turn over exculpatory ‘Brady’ evidence in the case of The People of the State of Illinois vs. Andrew Rifkin” and because of a “failure to appropriately supervise the Department.”