First Indian-American hired by Brookfield police in 2006 becomes police chief of Chicago suburb
Michael Kuruvilla has made history as the first Malayalee American police chief in the US becoming head of the police force in Brookfield, a Chicago, Illinois, suburb.
Previously deputy chief Kuruvilla, 37, the first Indian-American hired by Brookfield police in 2006, was sworn in as the new police chief during a ceremony July 12, local rblandmark.com reported.
Kuruvilla is the first person of color to lead the Brookfield Police Department and one of the very few Indian-Americans to lead a police agency in the United States.
A half dozen Indian-American officers from area police departments including Chicago, Palatine, Bensenville and others were among those attending Kuruvilla’s swearing-in ceremony that drew an overflow crowd at the Brookfield Village Hall, the largest gathering in the council chamber in a year, the website reported.
Kuruvilla replaced Edward Petrak, who retired from the police department after 31 years of service. In remarks following the presentation, Petrak, who wore civilian clothes for the occasion, made a point of shifting the spotlight away from himself.
“This night is about Mike [Kuruvilla],” Petrak said. “I’ve been around many leaders in my long career and Brookfield has found one of the very best in law enforcement.”
Kuruvilla’s wife, Sibil, and two young children stood beside him as Village Clerk Brigid Weber swore in the new chief.
Afterward, Kuruvilla revealed that his wife who like her husband has a master’s degree in social work, encouraged him to pursue being a caseworker for the Brookfield police department, which turned out to be his entrée into the police profession.
“You were the one who attended Brookfield’s [case worker] orientation with me and told me after the meeting that this is where you thought I would flourish,” Kuruvilla said. “Boy, was that an understatement.”
Kuruvilla was presented with the “40 Under 40” Award by the the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders, in September 2020.
“Although I have shed the formal title of social worker, my job still requires mediating between and for people in crisis and discord almost daily,” Kuruvilla wrote in his application for the award.
“Our profession has shifted immensely in recent years to increased mental health awareness, and I have proudly led the charge to model and teach my department members and those in neighboring communities how best to serve those in need.”
“My ability and the opportunity to provide someone who may be suffering and in pain even just a moment of reprieve and peace is important and fulfilling to me,” Kuruvilla wrote.
“Kuruvilla has risen through the ranks of the Village of Brookfield Police Department rapidly leading into his 15th year of service due to his balanced approach, gifted intelligence, and perseverance,” according to his official profile.
As deputy chief, Kuruvilla procured a grant to secure bulletproof vests for officers, took the lead in understanding the state’s new laws regarding cannabis, and served for six years as president of the police union before his promotion to lieutenant, it said.
Kuruvilla has the distinction of being both the first Indian American hired at Brookfield and the first officer in the department to complete crisis intervention training.
Kuruvilla is also a board member and law enforcement liaison for a nonprofit that serves the needs of women victimized by the human and sex trafficking.
Finding motivation in helping those experiencing crises or chaos, Kuruvilla holds a deep sense of service and is proud to administer justice in his role as an officer, IACP noted.
“My ability and the opportunity to provide someone who may be suffering and in pain even just a moment of reprieve and peace is important and fulfilling to me,” he was quoted as saying.