On Wednesday, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announced that current deputy Police Chief Keith Cross as his pick to replace Chief Kristen Ziman, who will retire in August, after 30 years with the police department.
"I needed this leader to be a proven public safety professional, who is steady under pressure, firm in resolve, and compassionate and relatable to fellow officers and members of the community," said Mayor Irvin.
If approved by city council, Cross will replace Ziman as chief. He will become the city's second Black police chief to serve in the post.
"I’ve considered it to be a privilege to be able to serve the community I grew up in," said Cross.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Cross, an Aurora-native, has 27 years of experience with the department. He started his career as a patrolman, raising in the ranks to lieutenant, commander and most recently deputy chief, according to city officials.
"I never imagined myself having an opportunity like this. Not because I thought it was impossible, but because I truly enjoyed the day to day contact I had with our residents when I was out patrolling the streets of our city," said Cross.
He says his top priorities moving forward will be diversification of the police force and recruitment.
At the same press conference, Irvin also selected Matt Thomas as deputy police chief-elect and Guillermo Trujilo as deputy mayor-elect, also acknowledging diversity is a top priority of his administration.
"It's a concerted effort in this administration to make sure the leadership in our community and all our employees, close to 1,300 employees, look like what our city looks like. And they represent our city fully," said Irvin.
Thomas has 24 years of experience on the police force, most recently as a commander.
"My goal moving forward is to stay on the path we have been on and continue to move that forward. Some of the things I want to do is to focus on officer wellness, continue to seek new ways to modernize equipment and operations, and preserve our partnership with the community," said Thomas.
Trujilo is a retired police officer. He immigrated to the United States as a child but has spent most of his life in Aurora.
"I came here at the age of seven not knowing a word of English," said Trujilo. "I never thought I would be here. So, I appreciate your confidence in me and I will do my best."
The deputy mayor post has been vacant since Chuck Nelson announced his retirement six months ago.
Ziman's last day will be Aug. 6th. If the Aurora City Council approves the appointees, Cross, Thomas and Trujilo will be sworn in next month.