OAK PARK — Oak Park Police Department Chief Shatonya Johnson was sworn in Friday as the village’s first female police chief.
She grew up on the city’s south side and grew up in the Altgeld Gardens projects.
She thanked her mentors and friends for helping her throughout her career and said she’s simply paving the way for many more to come.
Johnson had been serving as the department’s interim chief since April when Ladon Reynolds retired.
Village Manager Kevin Jackson said they then opened a comprehensive national search, but realized the person fit for the job was already in their department.
“I found her to be uniquely qualified with her ability to engage with the community, despite what the circumstances are even when there are tensions,” Jackson said.
Like on Oct. 14 when a standoff of more than 18 hours ended peacefully with the help of Johnson, who has been a negotiator for 15 years.
“I work beside the men and women of Oak Park,” she said. “There’s nothing that I would ask anybody in the police department, sworn or civilian, to do that I won’t do.”
She started her career with the department as a patrol officer in 2000 and has moved her way through the ranks.
On Friday, she was pinned on by her mother.
“She was very strict,” Johnson said. “She wanted to make sure that I always did the right thing.”
She said her main goals are community engagement and officer wellness.
When asked what it’s like to be the village’s first female chief of police, she said, “I won’t be the last.”