Petragallo withdraws from police chief consideration


In this March 22 file photo, John Petragallo, then DeKalb Police Department deputy chief, exits the podium after a Committee of the Whole meeting.

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — DeKalb Interim Police Chief John Petragallo withdrew himself from consideration for police chief to pursue a different career in public service.

“Arriving at this decision has been extremely difficult,” Petragallo wrote in a letter to City Manager Bill Nicklas. “This has not just been a career; it has been my life. I am very proud to have served this community, city and department for the last 26 years.”

Petragallo was named interim police chief May 28 when former Police Chief Gene Lowery retired after seven years in the position. Petragallo began as a patrol officer and had served as the deputy chief since 2015 before taking the interim appointment.

Nicklas said he respects Petragallo as a friend and colleague but regrets his decision, according to a news release.

“His work as interim chief had prepared and positioned him for a permanent appointment,” Nicklas said in the release. “His honest and thoughtful nature are evident in his difficult decision to pursue other interests, even though a higher career opportunity was open to him with the City of DeKalb.”

Petragallo said the department will continue to work on the Elonte McDowell case that sparked protests in the city regarding the use of force by police.

“I wish to affirm that I am committed to bringing the use of force incident stemming from the McDowell arrest in August 2019 to a resolution,” he said. “I take this responsibility very seriously and am confident that the engagement efforts that have been and will continue to be made will bolster the relationship between the community and police department.”

In October, Nicklas said the police chief position would be permanently filled by the end of 2019 but didn’t disclose whether or not he was in search of anyone other than Petragallo, according to an Oct. 13 Northern Star article.

Petragallo recently graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from NIU and said his intent is to begin a new career and path later this year, which would provide enough time for a transition.

“My options are open,” Petragallo said. “It may be in law enforcement, although I do love public service, so it’s going to be something involving that. I want to see what my options are. I am excited about starting something new from scratch.”

He said his career change is also prompted by the fact that he’s in a unique position in his life.

This summer Petragallo will turn 50, and his youngest daughter will be attending college in the fall while his oldest daughter continues to attend college, leaving a desire to start something new, Petragallo said.

Petragallo will remain interim police chief while the city manager and City Council conduct a search for a permanent police chief.