MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WLS) -- He was Merrillville's first African-American police officer in 1994. More than 26 years later, Wiley Luther Cuttino makes history again becoming the Northwest Indiana town's first African-American police chief.
"I have kids naturally, and I have grandkids, and it's just a matter of showing them the effort, doing the right things in life things can happen for you and that comes from all races," said Chief Wiley Luther Cuttino
Cuttino was privately sworn in last week after he was unanimously elected by the town council to succeed the long time retiring police chief. A public ceremony takes place Tuesday night.
He takes over during a time when emotions are high following George Floyd's homicide at the hands of a white police officer.
"When something like this unfortunately happens, you want to do everything within your power, to make sure it doesn't happen again," Cuttino said.
Under his watch, the chief said every Merrillville officer wears a body camera and turns it on during any encounter with the public.
Merrillville's population is almost half African American. Cuttino said building a positive relationship between community and police will be a big priority.
"You want to feel a part of society, you shouldn't have to be on guard as long as you have that established understanding with your local authorities that you are human like everybody else," Cuttino said.
Wiley Luther Cuttino makes history as first African-American Merrillville police chief