DeKalb Deputy Police Chief John Petragallo set to be interim police chief

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DeKALB – DeKalb Deputy Police Chief John Petragallo said when he started with the police department in 1994, he didn't envision himself rising to the leadership role.

Almost 25 years later, Petragallo, 48, is set to be appointed the interim police chief after departing Police Chief Gene Lowery retires May 31. Petragallo's succession is part of a plan the City of DeKalb and police department created to ensure a smooth transition. According to City Manager Bill Nicklas, the council's vote whether to appoint Petragallo as interim chief will allow the city to assess how he does in the role as a potential candidate to take the reigns full-time. If approved by council, he'll begin his interim role June 1, with a salary of $141,244, a 5% increase over his current salary, agenda documents show.

Petragallo said Thursday he's ready for the challenge.

"I love this department, the men and women that work for it, and the city as a whole," Petragallo said. "I'm just excited to take up the challenge. We've got a great team here, so just to continue to do good things for the city and department."

Nicklas said Petragallo's transition is what the city has been working toward for some time, to define a succession path for the department.

"He went through that process to become deputy chief," Nicklas said. "So I'm honoring that process which got him to where he is now, and I would like to appoint him the interim to give him that opportunity. We'll see how he does, and assess that."

Under Lowery's leadership, Petragallo said he's learned a great deal.

"I've learned a lot from him," Petragallo said. "When I first started, one of my training officers told me to just watch what everybody does and take what you think is useful. So I really drew a lot from Chief Lowery. He really is a thinker, and really instilled trying to be proactive with everything and to plan."

Petragallo has served in the Deputy Police Chief role since June 2015. He began his career with the department in February of 1994 as a patrol officer, according to council agenda documents. Over the years he's been assigned to the Illinois State Police's Drug Task Force from April 1996 to December 1997; detective from August 1997 to March 2006; patrol sergeant from January 2006 to February 2013; and operations commander from February 2013 to June 2015.

Petragallo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and criminology from Northern Illinois University and is completing his Master of Science degree in public administration at NIU, documents show. He also graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation academy in 2007, and holds certifications in law enforcement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the DeKalb County Law Enforcement Executives Association and the Northern Illinois Training and Standards Board Executive Committee.