C.P.D. veteran highlights building trust in open forum

Chicago Police Commander plans to address crime, diversity and community engagement if elected as NIU chief of police.


Sean Reed

Roderick Robinson, candidate for the NIU chief of police position, wants students to have a relationship with the police department and develop trust.

DeKALB — Roderick Robinson, a 26 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, plans to prioritize community engagement if selected as the next NIU chief of police. 

The Chicago Police Commander helped to reduce the crime rate in Englewood by 12% when he worked as a District commander of the 7th District in Chicago. Robinson hopes to apply similar tactics to reduce crime at NIU.

“It’s a proven fact you can’t arrest your way out of a problem,” Robinson said. “But I do believe with positive engagement by the officers working with the community, we can have that effect and make it a safer environment and a really true learning environment.”

Robinson said he wants to give a voice to students and hear their concerns. Robinson also wants to prioritize setting a consistent date for students to have conversations with the NIU police department. He wants NIU students to trust the NIU police department. Robinson said this can be achieved through day to day conversations or planned activities like karaoke or pizza with the police.

“I want to have a relationship with you and we can have that conversation and not just when something goes bad, but when something is also good,” Robinson said.

Addressing crime

With off-campus neighborhoods such as Greek Row on Hillcrest that are regarded by residents as having more crime in DeKalb, Robinson said he is working with other police departments in the area such as the DeKalb police, Chicago police and Illinois state police.

“We want to make sure every single area and community around this campus is equally policed,” Robinson said.

Robinson wants to make sure needs are assessed, that way there can be a solution to the problem for both on and off campus.

NIU police is phasing out the emergency blue light call boxes, and they are being replaced by the NIU Safe app. With the NIU Safe app having downloads lower than student enrollment, Robinson wants to assess what’s working and what isn’t working. 

“We want to build upon successes,” Robinson said. “We want to take these to about another level as far as the safety and the environment.”

Diversity in the police department

Robinson said there was a need for diversifying the police department to better reflect NIU students.

“I wanted everyone to feel comfortable and have a voice,” Robinson said. “Having that voice is being comfortable talking to the officer. So if it makes it more comfortable for a Hispanic officer to talk to a Hispanic resident, and that’s what I wanted.”

Robinson recruited a diverse police staff in Englewood when there was an influx of Hispanic and White residents to the district. Robinson is confident he can work to eventually diversify the police staff.

“Once we get our officers here and retain our best officers, get them trained, get them the resources they need to be the best possible for our campus and our community, then it’ll have a dramatic effect on our recruitment,” Robinson said. 

Other candidate still to present

There will be one more open forum this week with the remaining finalist, John Vinson, director of Strategic Planning and Accreditation at Indiana University. Vinson’s open forum is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday in Altgeld Hall, Room 315.