DeKALB – A former DeKalb acting police chief is set to take over the city’s newest Crime-Free Housing Bureau.
Cmdr. Bob Redel, a veteran police officer of the DeKalb Police Department who lead the city’s detectives division, was introduced in his new director capacity to the community during a recent DeKalb City Council meeting.
City Manager Bill Nicklas said Redel is no stranger to DeKalb.
“He is a person who’s been an exceptional police officer for over 28 years in our community,” Nicklas said.
Redel started as a patrol officer with DeKalb police in 1994 progressing through the ranks as sergeant, lieutenant and commander. He works currently as investigations commander. He also served as acting police chief from mid-2020 until Police Chief David Byrd’s appointment as the city’s top cop in March 2021. Redel had also vied for the chief position.
It’s through his nearly three decades as a police officer that Redel came to know many of the area’s landlords, city officials said.
DeKalb’s crime-free housing initiative was adopted last month after several weeks of debate centered around how to address what city leaders called chronic negligent landlords and violent crime in the area.
The initiative is meant to bolster the city’s punitive municipal tools by targeting landlords and tenants found to have violated the law with hefty fines.
Nicklas said that when Redel was acting chief, he served amid a tumultuous time for the city and demonstrated that he is a good listener.
Near daily marches and peaceful protests in the summer 2020 led by area Black Lives Matter activists in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis came as Redel took over the department’s reigns on an interim basis. He came on board after former police chief John Petragallo retired following one year on the job.
In Redel’s time, the DeKalb Police Department began a restructuring meant to broaden officers’ community engagement and widen police transparency and behavioral health response programs.
City officials said Redel has a track record of meeting with community groups to seek greater diversity, equity and inclusion in government and employment. They said Redel also mentored young officers learning the importance of deescalation and empathetic listening when responding to calls.
City leaders for months faced growing pressure after a string of unrelated summer gun violence resulted in the city’s first homicide of 2022 outside a north side apartment complex and a midday shooting involving three teenagers, including a 13-year-old who later was charged with attempted murder.
Redel – who will hang up his cop hat and retire as a commander prior to assuming his new role Nov. 27, according to city documents – will oversee the housing program. He’s expected to work in tandem with DeKalb police, according to the plan, and issue violations to those found responsible for violating city code.
“He’s a believer in collaboration, cooperation to get things done,” Nicklas said. “He will be working primarily with a lot of landlords in our communities … He knows many of them. He’ll get to know all of them. He’ll get to know all the properties that he may not have seen because we have … a lot of really good landlords in our community. There hasn’t been any reason for him in his current capacity to be there, but nevertheless he intends to be well-informed.”
The city council wants a director who will be thorough, fair and dedicated to the task.
“I think Bob hits all those notes at a very high level,” Nicklas said.
Mayor Cohen Barnes said he and the city council are excited to have Redel fill this position
“[We’re] really looking forward to dialing up our game when it comes to accountability in the city of DeKalb,” Barnes said. “On behalf of council, definitely welcome and [we’re] looking forward to working with you.”