Carla Redd sworn in as first Black, female chief of the Rockford Police Department
By TRRT Newsroom
ROCKFORD — Carla Redd made history Tuesday by officially becoming the first Black person and the first woman to serve as chief of the Rockford Police Department.
Redd was sworn in at 9 a.m., during a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Hall. The Rockford native and Rock Valley College graduate succeeds Dan O’Shea, who retired in April after five years on the job.
“Taking the helm as the first female chief and a person of color means so much to me, and I know to a lot of others who are here today,” Redd said. “The love and support from everyone just in the past week has been astonishing. I can’t say enough about the trailblazers who have come before me and opened the doors to allow me to be standing here today.”
Two of those trailblazers, she said, were her parents, who relocated to Illinois from one of the poorest counties in Mississippi, and taught their children that no dream was too lofty.
“We didn’t have everything that we wanted, but they did their best to make sure we had everything that we needed in life,” Redd said. “My mom, who is a retired school teacher, always taught us that you can do anything that you set your mind to.”
For Redd, a career in law enforcement was one of those things. After graduating from Rockford West High School in 1989, she earned an associate’s degree in criminology from Rock Valley, 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.
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 served most recently as an assistant deputy chief.
“The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners has every confidence, Chief Redd, that you have the leadership skills to take this department to a new level,” Board Chairman Sam Schmitz told her during the ceremony.
Redd, who will earn $161,000 per year, was chosen after a nationwide search that was narrowed down to a group of four finalists that included Rockford Deputy Chief Kurt Whisenand, retired FBI Special Agent Larry Lapp, and Jonathan Lewin, senior public safety advisor with the First Responder Network Authority.