Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman, the first woman to head the department and a recent finalist for top jobs in Chicago and Nashville, has announced plans to retire on Aug. 6.
A 30-year veteran of the department, Ziman announced her intentions in a June 14 post on the Aurora Police Department’s Facebook page.
“On July 29th, I will have completed my 30th year working at the Aurora Police Department,” she wrote. “I started as a police cadet in 1991, so I have grown up (both literally and figuratively) in the police department. I never imagined that one day I would have the privilege of serving as the 41st police chief of the Aurora Police Department.
“I have had a fantastic career serving you and our officers, which is why it is bittersweet that I announce my retirement,” she continued. “I am fortunate that several opportunities have come my way, and I’m also pursuing some new adventures of my own. I will be taking this time to decide exactly what is next for me.”
No interim successor was immediately named. But Ziman said the department has a “very deep bench of talent and there are many skilled individuals who will step in and take over where I left off.”
She was named chief of the state’s second-largest police department by the late Mayor Tom Weisner in 2016 and continued in that role under current Mayor Richard C. Irvin.
Ziman was born and raised on Aurora’s west side, joined the Aurora force as a cadet in 1991 and became a sworn officer in 1994, working in patrol, field training, community policing and investigations as a domestic violence detective. She was promoted to sergeant in 2003, became a lieutenant in 2008 and was named a commander in 2010.
Ziman holds an undergraduate degree from Aurora University and master’s degrees from Boston University and a second in in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in California.
During her tenure, she led the department response to the February 2019 mass shooting at Aurora’s Henry Pratt Co., as well as civil unrest and downtown looting following a 2020 demonstration in reaction to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after he was pinned down by a White police officer in Minneapolis.
“The worst day of my professional life was the mass shooting where five people were killed, and five of my officers were shot,” Ziman wrote. “The second worst day of my career was when a peaceful protest turned violent, and our downtown was looted and burned. Those moments were excruciating, but they made our police department and our community more resilient.”
In recent years, she was a finalist for top police jobs in Chicago and Nashville.
Ziman said she leaves a modernized police department that’s more diverse, accountable and focused.
“The most significant achievement has been in building relationships in the community,” she wrote. “I set a goal of community engagement that I knew would be hard to quantify, but I did it anyway. Our officers and our caring citizens have come together on so many occasions to solve problems and combat crime. And that engagement will continue long after I walk out the door.”