Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman prepares for retirement after 30 years on force

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman is completing her final tasks before retiring from the Aurora Police Department on Friday.

She needed to qualify on the shooting range so she can continue to carry her weapon. She passed easily, but leaving the only place she has worked since she was 17 years old will not be so easy.

WATCH | Full interview with Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman

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Watch John Garcia's full interview with retiring Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman.

"I go from profound sadness and then there's the other part of me that's so excited because it's a new adventure," Ziman said.

When she began her career, she had no female role models - there were no women in command positions in the department. But now she has blazed trail for many other women.

"There's a little girl out there who looks at me and says, 'I can do that,'" Ziman said.

RELATED | Aurora's 1st female police chief to retire after 30 years with department

Her successor as chief, Keith Cross, also comes from the ranks of the Aurora Police Department.

"Leaving it in Keith Cross's capable hands give me such solace and I just smile at all the stress he's about to incur," she said.

In the last three years, the second largest city in the state dealt with the mass shooting at the Henry Pratt Company, when an employee opened fire, killing five other employees and injuring five police officers. Then there was the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd that led to violence and looting in downtown Aurora. And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I feel as though for three years I haven't slept," Ziman said.

She is highly regarded among peers. On Wednesday, Kane County Chief's Association recognized Ziman on the eve of her retirement. She said she has accomplished the goals she set when she became chief five years ago: reducing violent crime and increasing community engagement. Next, she plans on speaking engagements and consulting work, helping other departments prepare for active shooter situations.

"My calendar is filled through the end of the year with those conversations," Ziman said.

After wearing the Aurora Police uniform every working day for the last 30 years, she now says one of her biggest challenges will be figuring out what to wear every day.
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