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Chiefs Search

Here you will find updates on our search to find new Police and Fire Chiefs.

August 23, 2021

Today, the Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously to appoint Carla Redd as the next Rockford Police Department Chief and Michele Pankow as the next Rockford Fire Department Chief. This is the first time in the City’s history that either department will be led by a woman.

Chief 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. Chief Redd currently serves as Assistant Deputy Chief. She 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. Chief Redd is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Michele 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,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “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.”

Dates for the swearing-in ceremonies will be announced soon.

August 9. 2021

As part of the selection process for our Chiefs, the Fire and Police Commission is hosting Meet and Greets with the candidates.

Fire Chief Candidate Meet and Greet
Tuesday, August 10
5 to 7 p.m. – General public
Riverfront Museum Park, Kresge Hall

Police Chief Candidate Meet and Greet
Wednesday, August 11
5 to 7 p.m. – General public
Riverfront Museum Park, Kresge Hall

Masks will be required.

August 9, 2021

A recording of the Virtual Q & A with the Fire Chief Candidates. Candidates answered questions that had been previously submitted by our community members.

July 29, 2021

A recording of the Virtual Q & A with the Police Chief Candidates. Candidates answered questions that had been previously submitted by our community members.

July 26, 2021

Below are links to the resumes of the finalists.

Police Chief Finalists:

Larry Lapp
Jonathan Lewin
Carla Redd
Kurt Whisenand

Fire Chief Finalists:

Trent Brass
Kyle Hill
Matthew Knott
Michele Pankow

July 26, 2021

Rockford Police Department – Police Chief Virtual Forum

July 28, 2021 at 5 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85889240103?pwd=TDNLNEhBekM1Q0NkK2VuUkVxMmNYdz09

Meeting ID: 858 8924 0103

Passcode: 868163

One tap mobile

+13126266799,,85889240103# US (Chicago)

+19292056099,,85889240103# US (New York)

Rockford Fire Department – Fire Chief Virtual Forum

Aug 4, 2021 at 5 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88387145018?pwd=akFIclhGeFNPK2FqaTNVL1BQbG5Fdz09

Meeting ID: 883 8714 5018

Passcode: 323756

One tap mobile

+13126266799,,88387145018# US (Chicago)

+13017158592,,88387145018# US (Washington DC)

July 23, 2021

Today, the Fire and Police Commission announced the finalists for the Chief of the Rockford Fire Department and Chief of the Rockford Police Department positions.

Police Chief Finalists:

  • Larry Lapp – Retired Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations – Chicago Office
  • Jonathan Lewin – Senior Public Safety Advisory, First Responder Network Authority
  • Carla Redd – Assistant Deputy Chief, Rockford Police Department
  • Kurt Whisenand – Deputy Chief, Rockford Police Department

Fire Chief Finalists:

  • Trent Brass – Captain, Rockford Fire Department
  • Kyle Hill – Captain, Rockford Fire Department
  • Matthew Knott – Division Chief of Administration and Fire Prevention, Rockford Fire Department
  • Michele Pankow – Division Chief of Operations, Rockford Fire Department

July 16, 2021

The Fire and Police Commission is hosting two Moderated Virtual Community Question and Answer Forums for our Chief candidates.

Police Candidates – Wednesday, July 28, at 5 p.m.

Fire Candidates – Wednesday, August 4, at 5 p.m.

July 12, 2021

The Fire and Police Commission will be hosting two Moderated Virtual Community Question and Answer Forums – one for the Police Chief position and one for the Fire Chief position – at the end of July/early August. IOS, the consulting firm hired to help the Commission with the hiring process, will be running these virtual forums via a web platform. These forums offer members of the public the opportunity to ask Police Chief and Fire Chief candidates questions about their backgrounds and plans for the department if they are hired. IOS is asking community members to submit questions to the email addresses listed below by midnight on July 22nd, 2021. IOS will compile these questions and present them to the candidates during the live, virtual forums.

Fire Chief: [email protected]

Police Chief: [email protected]

July 2, 2021

The application period for Chief of the Rockford Fire Department and Chief of the Rockford Police Department closed yesterday. The Fire and Police Commission just announced that it received complete application submissions from 13 applicants for the Police Chief position (2 internal RPD applicants and 11 external applicants) and 13 applicants for the Fire Chief position (5 internal RFD applicants and 8 external applicants). 

IOS Industrial/Organizational Solutions (IOS) – the consulting firm hired to help the Fire and Police Commission in the recruitment and evaluation of candidates – is in the process of vetting the submissions and assessing the qualifications of each applicant.  Recommendations will be delivered to the Commission regarding the most qualified applicants in the near future.

Names of the finalists will be announced in early August.

June 29, 2021

The Commission reappointed Chief Berke for another 60 days as Interim Police Chief. His appointment was set to expire today. With Chief Vertiz’s appointment set to expire on July 7 and his retirement scheduled for July 9, Todd Stockburger was named the next Interim Chief for Rockford Fire.

Chief Stockburger was with the Village of Winnebago Police Department for 22 years, serving as Chief of Police for 17 years. He joined Rockford Fire in 2020 as the 911 Division Administrator.  

May 24, 2021

The City of Rockford Fire and Police Commission, in consultation with Industrial/Organizational Solutions, just announced that the job descriptions and requirements for Fire Chief and Police Chief are available and applications are now being accepted.  

Job Description for Fire Chief

Job Description for Police Chief

May 20, 2021

The City of Rockford Fire and Police Commission recently retained Industrial/Organizational Solutions (IOS) to assist in the recruitment and evaluation of candidates for the fire chief and police chief positions. As part of the selection process, the City wants community input on what qualifications or experience residents think prospective candidates should possess. Written comments can be submitted via email to [email protected] for comments on the Fire Chief or [email protected] on comments for the Police Chief. After candidates for both positions have been thoroughly vetted and evaluated, the City will host web-based meetings for residents to meet the candidates. Additional information on these meetings will be announced later in the process.

April 28, 2021

The Fire and Police Commission appointed Robert Vertiz to Interim Fire Chief and Randy Berke to Interim Police Chief.

Chief Vertiz has been with the Rockford Fire Department for almost 32 years. He has held the position of Division Chief of Training for the department since 2018. He is responsible for the administrative and management work involved in planning, organizing, directing and supervising the department’s fire and emergency medical services training programs. Chief Vertiz previously held the position of EMS Coordinator. He is a lifelong Rockford resident. He’ll begin as Interim Chief on May 8.

Chief Berke has been with the Rockford Police Department for 27 years. He currently serves as the Assistant Deputy Chief over Police District 2, where he plans, assigns and supervises patrol operations; develops goals for staffing, crime trends and operational procedures; and reviews citizen complaints and misconduct investigations. Chief Berke is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy and has served on the SWAT team for 24 years. In his various leadership roles, he has supervised many departments, including the Sensitive Crimes Unit, the Rockford Narcotics Unit and the Community Services Unit. Chief Berke has been a resident of Rockford since he was hired by the department in 1994. He’ll begin as Interim Chief on May 1.

“Both Chief Bergsten and Chief O’Shea have done a fantastic job developing the leadership skill of their teams during their tenures,” says Sam Schmitz of the Fire and Police Commission. “I believe Chief Vertiz and Chief Berke will be able to seamlessly step into these new roles, while the Commission conducts a national search for permanent replacements.”

“I appreciate the hard work of the three citizens on the Fire and Police Commission,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “After selecting Interim Chiefs, they now begin an even more difficult task of launching national searches for two chief positions simultaneously. I know the commissioners are committed to finding the very best candidates to serve our community.”

Per Fire and Police Commission requirements, those who will be applying for the permanent positions are not eligible for the interim positions.

The citizen led Fire and Police Commission oversees hiring and promotions for the Rockford Police and Fire departments and is made up of three Rockford residents – Sam Schmitz, Ingrid Hargrove and Rudy Valdez.