The Beloit Police and Fire Commission on Wednesday unanimously named Andre Sayles as the city’s new police chief—the first Black chief in the police department’s 119-year history.

Sayles, who previously was captain of patrol, is the 19th police chief in the department’s long line of past leaders.

The appointment will take effect Monday, according to the resolution approved at Wednesday’s meeting.

The commission’s search for a new chief started in September after the departure of former Police Chief David Zibolski, who left Beloit for a similar job in Fargo, North Dakota.

After a nationwide search, the commission picked two internal finalists: Sayles and Inspector/Interim Chief Thomas Stigler. Both candidates spoke to the community during a well-attended virtual forum April 7.

Sayles thanked the commission for the opportunity Wednesday, saying he would put his “blood, sweat and tears” into the police department.

“This is something that I put a lot of effort towards,” he said. “I believe I have done that with my tenure here at the Beloit Police Department through the ways I have connected with the community, the way I have connected with other city employees and have connected our department to be one wholesome family. I am at a loss for words. It is an awesome accomplishment.”

Sayles said keeping the police department moving forward would be a “difficult task.” He said he wanted the department to continue following the latest training and procedural standards as part of a commitment to 21st-century policing and “being stewards of our community.”

“I am ready for it, and there’s nothing that will stand in my way for us becoming one of the greatest police departments in the country,” Sayles said.

Commission President Ron Watson said Sayles’ strong community ties made him the overwhelming favorite for the job.

“We are excited for the vision, energy and leadership that Chief Sayles will bring to this department and are extremely grateful for the input on this important decision from stakeholders across our community,” Watson said in a statement to the Beloit Daily News.

Sayles said the department’s three short-term priorities are reducing crime, improving community trust and implementing a peer-support program for officers.

“This new mission isn’t about me,” Sayles said. “It’s about our city and the men and women guarding it. I know I’m the chief; my officers know, and my community knows. We have work to do collectively to assist the city of Beloit in becoming a prime place for residents to call home. I’m excited to get to work with the department, city employees and most importantly the community.”

Sayles has worked for the Beloit Police Department since 2005 and has held several positions in tactical operations and as a training instructor and patrol officer in the department’s now-reorganized drug and gang unit.

In 2013, he was promoted to sergeant and later to lieutenant of community outreach. Sayles created the department’s Explorer Program, which engages with young people in the community, and serves as the department’s lead recruiter of future Beloit officers by visiting colleges across the country.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from Iowa Wesleyan University and is working on a master’s in criminal justice with an emphasis in criminal justice management at UW-Platteville.

A swearing-in ceremony will be held at a later date.

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