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Rockford names new police, fire chief. Both are women

ROCKFORD — For the first time since their inception, the Rockford’s police and fire departments will be led by women.

Rockford’s Fire and Police Commission announced Monday that it voted unanimously to appoint Carla Redd as the next police chief and Michele Pankow as the next chief of the Rockford Fire Department.

Redd joined the Rockford Police Department in 1998. She was a patrol officer, field training officer, community services officer, detective and sergeant before becoming the first Black woman to achieve a command rank as a lieutenant in 2015. She currently serves as assistant deputy chief.

Redd holds an associate’s degree in criminology from Rock Valley College, a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice from Northern Illinois University and a certification in criminal justice from the University of Virginia. She is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Redd is the first Black person to serve as police chief.

Pankow joined the Rockford Fire Department in 1992. Working her way up the ranks, she
became the first woman in the history of the Rockford Fire Department to become a division chief in 2016. Chief Pankow currently serves as the division chief of operations. She holds an associate’s degree from Rock Valley College, a bachelor’s degree in fire service management from Southern Illinois University and a master’s in public administration from Northern Illinois University.

“I want to thank the members of the Fire and Police Commission for their hard work over the last several months as they combed through resumes, interviewed candidates, held online and in-person community forums, and participated in the day-long assessment centers of each potential chief that were proctored by fire chiefs and police chiefs from cities throughout the Midwest,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said. “I’ve worked with both Chief Redd and Chief Pankow in my time as alderman and as mayor, and I could not be more proud or more excited to now be working next to them as they take the reins of their respective departments.”

The Rockford Police Department was formed in 1852, the fire department in 1881.

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