Springfield's Chief Winslow Named ILACP Chief of the Year

April 20, 2021

Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow is the 2021 Chief of the Year, named by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP), a 1,200-member statewide organization. The award goes to a chief who excels in his or her own department and provides extraordinary service to the association. Winslow will be recognized during the association’s annual conference on August 20, 2021, at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

Winslow was nominated for the award by several ILACP members. Making the selection was the association’s Board of Officers, which serves as the board of directors.

Winslow has been a leader locally and statewide in the association’s collaboration with the NAACP Illinois State Conference. That process has led to the Ten Shared Principles designed to build trust between law enforcement and communities of color. After the statewide adoption of these principles in 2018, Winslow led the effort to get all 26 law enforcement agencies in Sangamon County to adopt the principles at a ceremony in the Old State Capitol. Winslow has also incorporated these principles into policy and training for his department.

“Winslow is viewed by his peers as a model for what a 21st century police chief should be,” said ILACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki. Winslow and his department have implemented many community policing initiatives, including partnering with The Outlet Mentoring Group for their annual Bridging the Gap barbecue with residents, the NAACP and NOBLE on their “Know Your Rights” and “Law and You” programs, Lights in the Mirror program, Coffee with Cops, Halloween Safety Event, Focused Deterrence, Community Staff Walks, National Night Out, Teen Police Academy, school reading programs and much more. The department’s Annual Beards and Badges campaign has raised over $26,000 in the past five years for the American Cancer Society to support research into women’s and men’s health.  Winslow is active in his community and participates in many events and serves on various boards, including Memorial Behavioral Health and Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System’s Executive Board.

Springfield was the first major department in Illinois to use body cameras, and Winslow has been a leading voice in the Illinois Chiefs association in making recommendations for how the cameras can be used most successively in Illinois. He has been called upon many times for his insights based on the Springfield Police Department’s experiences. He has become a leading proponent of the use of body cameras, saying they are good for the community and a valuable tool for officers.

Last year, Winslow released the department’s detailed “Pledge to Professionalism,” a broad-based approach to policing, alternatives to incarceration, co-responder programs, and strong commitments to accountability and transparency. Winslow acknowledged in the “Pledge to Professionalism” the national calls for police reforms. “As an agency that already incorporates most of the proposed changes being suggested at the state and national level, the department would like to educate the public on what reforms we support and what proposed reforms are already incorporated into our policy, procedures, and training,” Winslow wrote.

“Kenny has been very active on our Legislative Committee, and we look to him to help us decide what direction to go on bills,” said ILACP President James R. Black. “Also, with him being in the capital city, he knows his way around, and he is a valuable liaison between law enforcement and state government. We see him all the time at our functions, and people throughout the state have a very high regard for him. He has a

Around the state, Winslow is active with the Mid-Sized Cities Chiefs, a group of leaders in other cities such as Aurora, Champaign, Peoria, Decatur, Bloomington-Normal and others. great relationship with legislators and many in the executive branch of state government.”

Winslow is widely known and respected for his dedication to community policing, his approachability and willingness to listen, Wojcicki said, and he has been recognized and honored many times for his department’s outreach to communities of color. In Springfield, he has partnered with several organizations in an effort to reduce crime, build trust and a better understanding of the law enforcement profession.  Winslow has been honored by several organizations for his department’s collaboration, and continues to regularly meet with leaders of the community in an effort to strengthen relationships and resolve issues. 

In the summer of 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, protesters and demonstrators gathered in Springfield multiple times, the largest one occurring May 31 when an estimated 3,000 vehicles paraded downtown and in other parts of the city. Winslow later praised the community for the peaceful demonstrations. “This is the kind of community we have,” Winslow said, “where people can come together and express their feelings and concern in a civil manner. I’m proud to live and serve in this kind of community where people respect each other.”

Winslow has been the Springfield Police Chief since 2013, when he was named interim chief. He has been with the department since January 1995. A native of Alton, Illinois, he possesses a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Springfield and an associate degree from Lewis and Clark Community College.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Executive Management Program and School of Police Staff and Command, Southern Police Institute’s Chief Executive Leadership Course amongst other executive and management courses. 

The ILACP began the Chief of the Year program in 2016. A complete list of previous award winners is available on ILACP’s website.