Michael Kuruvilla, an Indian American has assumed office as of July 12th to serve as the Chief of Police of Brookfield, a suburb of Chicago, making him the first South Indian American to hold such a post in the United States. Kuruvilla’s parents are from Kerala. His father, John Kuruvilla, an accountant, and mother, Saleena Kuruvilla, a pharmacist (both are retired)came to the US as students and had an arranged marriage.
Asked about his India connection, Chicago-born Brookfield Deputy Chief of Police Kuruvilla, 38, told indica News that he used to visit Kerala when he was a kid. The last trip he made to India was in 2013 with his family. Kuruvilla’s wife Sibil is a licensed social worker that manages a community mental health center and they have two children ages 10 and 3. In an interview with indica News, Kuruvilla shared how he was always fascinated by law enforcement, admitted it was an unusual career choice for his community, and said that his first job as police chief would be getting body cameras on. There are thirty-one police officers in his department and three non-sworn personal staff. Excerpts:
You started as a patrol officer and today you are going to be chief of police; is this a dream coming true?
I began my career as a patrol officer with the Brookfield Police Department in July 2006…. The short answer is YES, this is absolutely a dream come true, in that I am being given the opportunity and privilege to truly lead my police department at the helm of the organization for the years to come. I sincerely hope that my style of service and leadership will permeate throughout the department to spur others to serve similarly.
Did you always want to be a police officer?
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and moved to the northwest suburbs of Buffalo Grove during my childhood. Growing up, I was always fascinated with law enforcement, as I truly admired their role in providing service to the community and upholding law and order. Being of Indian-American origin with immigrant parents, law enforcement as a career possibility was not an option, mostly because it was an unknown professional arena for my family and I.
I was fortunate that by the time I was seriously considering pursuing law enforcement as a career option, a good friend that I had grown up with — also an Indian American, Malayalee — had already been hired by the Chicago Police Department, and he was a great source of support and guidance. By the time I actively pursued law enforcement as a career path, I had also completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work. My educational background has been an invaluable asset to my law enforcement career.
What would be the first job that you would like to work on as the police chief?
I have been leading in my current role of deputy chief and alongside my current chief of police. My hope in taking over his role is to continue the culture of professionalism, integrity, and honor in increasingly substantial ways. The implementation of body-worn cameras (BWCs) has been my project from day one. We are now crossing the finish line, so to speak, and I am incredibly proud of my police department and the Village of Brookfield in the ways that they have truly embraced and encouraged this evolution in policing so well.
This will be an enormous step of transparency that I believe will only highlight and exemplify the exceptionally high standards of professionalism that the men and women of my department have been demonstrating in our work all along. Also, we have a wonderfully established partnership with the community mental health center that has provided my department with crises services. We hope to continue that partnership into the future.
Was it hard earning the position you have reached today, do you think you had to work extra hard being a minority and brown? Are you the only Indian-American officer in your department?
I believe all police officers must have a special dedication and passion to do this type of work. It is not for the faint of heart, and the experiences and challenges that police officers must face often take a toll over the long run. The Brookfield Police Department has upheld a tradition of providing excellent public safety services all along. I have been very fortunate and blessed to rise through the ranks over the course of the last 15 years, and to be able to influence my organization and the greater community that we serve on every level.
I believe that my hard work and dedication has been exemplified on every level, but the work we do in law enforcement simply cannot be done solo or independently. I am the only Indian-American police officer in this department currently.
What are your thoughts when politicians on the progressive left say, “defund the police?”
My focus is in how to best or optimally utilize the funding that my department has currently been entrusted with, and to seek out ways to add funding and resources wherever possible. There are many needs in the community that a police department simply cannot solely fulfill or meet wholly, however, we need to work together collectively (all facets of the government and the community), to find ways to add funding, seek grants, etc, to provide the much-needed services (i.e. increased mental health options) to the members of the community that need them.