Chief of Police Kristen Ziman
In 1991, Kristen started her law enforcement career as an Aurora Police Cadet. In 1994, Kristen took an oath to serve and protect and become a sworn police officer in Aurora. Through her career, she wasn’t your atypical cop and she lived by the motto, “never look down on anyone – look at them.” Kristen became known as the police officer that could talk offenders into handcuffs.
As a young officer, she became a Field Training Officer and then then joined APD’s Community Policing Unit. Even as an officer, she led by example and encouraged her peers to get out of their squad cars and walk down the block to interact with the community.
In the late 90’s, Kristen moved to APD’s Investigations Division and saw spikes in domestic violence in Aurora. She saw first-hand that domestic violence victims weren’t getting the support that they needed and launched the Domestic Violence Reduction Unit, a specialized unit within Investigations to investigate and arrest those responsible for domestic violence.
In 2003, Kristen became one of the very few females ever in rank when she was promoted to Sergeant.
Five years later, a mentor suggested to Kristen to test to become a Lieutenant at APD, something no other female had ever done in the history of the department. When others learned about her intentions to test for Lieutenant, she was told that she shouldn’t test because women couldn’t do that job. That lit a fire inside Kristen and she asked herself "Why not me?"
In 2008, Kristen took the Lieutenant’s test and placed first on the promotion list. Shortly thereafter, she became the first female Lieutenant in the history of the Aurora Police Department.
In 2010, Kristen became the first-ever female Commander at the department. She continued her passion of community policing and help build long-lasting relationships with the community that attributed to huge overall crime reductions in Aurora. As part of her community-policing effort, the City of Aurora documented zero murders in the 2012.
In 2016, Kristen busted barriers again and became the first female Police Chief in the 159- year history of the Aurora Police Department.
Kristen is always working to better herself through the community, continuing education and training. She holds an associate degree from Waubonsee Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Aurora University, and a master’s degree from Boston University. She also has a second master’s degree in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Kristen is a graduate of PERF’s Senior Management Institute for Police, the FBI National Academy #249, and several other leadership programs.
Kristen believes we can better law enforcement and community relationships overall by working together, not just on a community level, but on a regional and nationwide level. She serves as Vice President At-Large of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and is a member of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC). She also serves as the Member At-Large of the Police Executive Research Firm (PERF).
Kristen and the Aurora Police Department have received honors for their response to a mass shooting in Aurora on February 15, 2019 in which five employees of a warehouse were killed, and five officers were shot.
Kristen leads by example and encourages her department, no matter the rank or the position, to always speak up if they have an idea or concern. “Leadership is about surrounding yourself with people who challenge you — diversity of thought is the key driver,” Kristen says, “Don’t surround yourself with people who look like you or think like you.”