Police chief looks to better the DeKalb community

By Ericka Exton

For some who obtain a career, it just becomes part of their daily routine. For others, like Chief of Police Gene Lowery, a career becomes part of their daily adventure.

At 56 years old, and with 34 of those years spent as a police officer, and a lifetime of stories–including ones about alligator hunting and scuba diving with bull sharks–it’s clear Lowery has no plans of slowing down.

Lowery said he can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be in law enforcement. Raised by a single mother, Lowery knew he had to make her proud. After finishing high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served for three years.

“It was nothing like home,” Lowery said. “It was like having multiple parents who really stayed on top of you. If you didn’t feel well, they didn’t care you had to get up anyway. I think I needed that.”

After his service, he attended college and graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A in general studies. He later returned to WIU to obtain a master’s degree in law administration.

Lowery took his first steps into law enforcement in 1979 when he joined the Ottawa Police Department. He began as a patrol officer and became a detective, then a patrol sergeant and patrol deputy. In 1989, after almost 10 years with the Ottawa force, Lowery was assigned to Washington, where he worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Later, Lowery decided to come back to Illinois and joined the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office. Once there, he served as a patrol sergeant, worked for the county sheriff’s office and was appointed chief of detectives. He stayed in McHenry for 21 years before retiring in 2010. Lowery said being an on-duty officer was the best experience in his career.

“City policing is where the rubber meets the road,” Lowery said.

But Lowery didn’t stop there. With a retirement that lasted about three days, Lowery was back working.

In 2010, he started working with the Crystal Lake Police Department. He served as deputy chief of police for two years. In 2012, Lowery was appointed to chief of police in DeKalb.

Mayor Kris Povlsen said his first impression of Lowery was that he was very approachable.

“He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to DeKalb and the ‘20/20’ vision that he has will have a positive effect on the city,” Povlsen said.

After a year with the DeKalb Police Department, Lowery said he holds the same passion and ambition for his job. There are many who are thrilled to have him a part of the force, including Lt. Jason Leverton.

“I’ve been excited to have him here,” Leverton said. “He brings a lot to the force and contacts from other places plus he has a plan to bring the community closer together and make this a better and safer place to live and that’s going to be great.”

The one message Lowery said he wants to send out, especially to the young people in DeKalb, is police are here to help and residents have to trust them.

“You know, I look back at my life and it could’ve gone a lot different,” Lowery said. “I love life and I’d rather wear out than rust out.”