Chief Kruger named ILACP Chief of the Year 

March 17, 2022

Caption: Kruger, serving as ILACP president as the time, bestowing our Public Official of the Year Award to Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago). 

East Dundee Police Chief James R. Kruger, Jr., is the 2022 Chief of the Year, named by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, a 1,300-member statewide organization. The award goes to a chief who excels in his or her own department and provides extraordinary service to the association. Kruger will be recognized during the association’s annual conference on April 29, 2022, in Northbrook.  

Kruger was nominated for the award by several ILACP members. Making the selection was the association’s Board of Officers, which serves as the board of directors.  

Kruger retired from the Oak Brook Police Department in December 2021 after serving there for 10 years, during which time he also served a year as the president of the Illinois Chiefs. He previously had been the chief of police in Roselle and Winfield after spending 20 years in the Carpentersville Police Department. He started at East Dundee last month.  

Kruger signing Ten Shared Principles in 2018, pictured with NAACP State President Teresa Haley. “Jim is a servant leader, and if you want to know what that means, just watch what he does and how he speaks and you’ll know the answer,” said ILACP President Mitchell R. Davis III, chief in Hazel Crest. “Chief Kruger has been a mentor to so many law enforcement officers over the years, and he is respected broadly as one of the best chiefs in Illinois. He has been especially important in promoting the careers of women officers, and he was our point person with the NAACP when we signed the historic Ten Shared Principles in 2018.”  

After his successful year as ILACP president from 2017-18, Kruger has continued to serve the association on the Legislative Committee and in other ways. He devoted dozens if not hundreds of hours interacting with key legislators, committees, and Attorney General Kwame Raoul on important criminal justice legislation in Springfield in the past two years. He helped to shape the legislation to make it as good as possible, and he also has been a critical voice in conversations about law enforcement pensions.  

 “He has this calm way of explaining policies and issues that makes sense to the public officials. By serving our association and our legislative efforts, he has become an important voice for all of Illinois law enforcement,” said ILACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki.   

Kruger has been a leader on diversity issues for the Illinois Chiefs in the past decade. When chief in Oak Brook, his department worked closely with the Unity Partnership of DuPage County, which facilitates relationships with African Americans, Latinos, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and others who live or work in Oak Brook. He attracted many of these diverse leaders to the ILACP Annual Conference in 2017 at the former McDonald’s Corporation headquarters in Oak Brook.  

Then he built on the work of his ILACP predecessors to bring the historic Ten Shared Principles to fruition in 2018. He and NAACP Illinois Conference State President Teresa Haley signed the principles in an elegant ceremony in the Old State Capitol. These principles have since stirred hundreds of healthy conversations about race relations in the past four years, and the principles have been adopted by more than 280 Illinois police agencies, plus the Illinois Municipal League, Illinois City County Management Association, AT&T Illinois, and at the national level, by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).  

“Jim is also active on LinkedIn and frequently shares the Illinois Chiefs’ posts, which contributes to the ILACP being a thought leader in Illinois law enforcement and criminal justice circles,” Wojcicki said.  

“There is just so much he has done for us, and I personally go to him when I need advice or insight on just about every issue,” Wojcicki added. “Jim has been a leader in officer wellness, co-chairing our Officer Wellness Committee and working with chaplains and social service professionals to link officers and Illinois communities with the skills of ministers, social workers, police psychologists and the like. He’s been an advocate of Special Olympics Illinois, our charity of choice, and he showed great leadership by starting a Polar Plunge in Oak Brook and jumping into the freezing water himself to raise money for Special Olympics athletes.”  

Also under his leadership, the Oak Brook PD became the first Illinois police department to become accredited both nationally and in Illinois – by CALEA and ILEAP, the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.   

Besides Kruger’s police duties, he was the founding Director of the Criminal Justice Management program at Judson University as well as an Adjunct Professor in both the Criminal Justice Program and Management and Leadership program at Judson and Elgin Community College.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Management and Leadership from Judson University in Elgin and a Master of Science from National-Louis University, Chicago.  He is a 1994 graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.    

Kruger and his wife Karen have two children and four grandchildren. Here is a list of previous winners of ILACP’s Chief of the Year award, which was first presented in 2016. 

Photos above: 

Kruger signing Ten Shared Principles in 2018, pictured with NAACP State President Teresa Haley. 

Kruger participating in the 2016 Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge.