By Bob Uphues
Lt. Michael Kuruvilla, a 13-year veteran of the Brookfield Police Department, will be sworn in as the village's next deputy police chief at the Oct. 14 meeting of the village board, Police Chief Edward Petrak has announced.
While Kuruvilla will be ceremoniously sworn in next month, Petrak said Kuruvilla is expected to be installed in the new job as early as next week.
Petrak said the 37-year-old Kuruvilla was his top choice, out of three internal candidates for the job, following a four-month process that included each candidate running the police department for a week while Petrak was away at training or on vacation this summer.
"They all have outstanding qualities and qualifications," Petrak said of the candidates, who also included Lt. James Burdett and Lt. James Mihalik. "I had three aces to pick from."
Petrak said that Kuruvilla proved during the four-month search process that "he could handle anything thrown his way."
Kuruvilla has been seen as a rising star within the department since he was hired in 2006 with a master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
He had gotten a job with an organization that provided crisis workers for the Brookfield Police Department after obtaining his master's degree. During his senior year of college, Kuruvilla decided to start applying for jobs as a police officer, and after working on mental health cases with the department for six months, he received an offer to join the Brookfield Police Department.
"We knew early on we had something special with Mike," said Petrak. "He has extraordinary communications skills; he's very relational and approachable. That's the feedback we've gotten from the community – residents, business owners and our own officers."
While Kuruvilla said he knew his career path would take him into some profession that served others, policing wasn't initially on his radar.
He grew up in the northwest suburbs, the son of immigrants from southern India, and attended Stevenson High School.
"I've always been geared toward people and thought I'd have a career in a service profession," said Kuruvilla. "I just didn't know what it was going to be. I have an affinity for communicating with people who need help."
After studying crisis work, Kuruvilla said he started to see that as a way to provide help to others. He worked for a time in the emergency room of Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago. His work with Chicago police there sparked his interest in pursuing that profession.
Petrak said that with law enforcement increasingly encountering the need for crisis intervention, Kuruvilla was someone the department identified as a valuable resource for training.
"He's trained our entire department, and he's a resource for other departments around here," said Petrak. "He's taken a real leadership role in that."
Since joining the police force, Kuruvilla has worked as a detective and was promoted to sergeant in November 2013, where he supervised a shift of predominantly younger officers.
"The role of sergeant was great; it was the best of both worlds," said Kuruvilla. "I had influence in guiding the direction of investigations and had the opportunity to ensure residents got all of the services we can provide."
He described himself as a detail-oriented with strong administrative abilities.
Petrak said he is looking forward to someone stepping into the deputy chief role, a job he himself did for more than three years before being appointed chief in April.
"The deputy chief is someone you can have complete confidence in when you're away," said Petrak. "It's someone you can bounce ideas off of and talk about the direction of the department and can trust to give you good advice. It's someone who has the pulse of the police department and staff."
Kuruvilla currently is attending the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety's 10-week School of Staff and Command.
On Oct. 14, Petrak also plans to promote an officer to lieutenant to fill the role being vacated by Kuruvilla and a new sergeant.
The officer at the top of the lieutenant's promotion list is Sgt. Terry Schreiber, a Riverside-Brookfield High School graduate and resident of Brookfield who was hired in 2006.
At the top of the sergeant's promotion lists is Officer Rafael Alvarado, a U.S. Army veteran who was hired as a Brookfield police officer in 2007.