Robert Kowalski has experience taking down white-collar criminals, investigating domestic terrorism and working undercover to bust organized crime rings.
Beginning March 25, he will become chief of the Edgerton Police Department, which reported fewer than 20 violent crimes from 2013 to 2017, according to the state’s uniform crime reporting database.
Kowalski told The Gazette he welcomes the relaxed environment Edgerton offers after a 38-year career in law enforcement in and around Chicago, including 20 years in the FBI.
The move from Illinois to Wisconsin brings Kowalski closer to his youngest son, who is a sophomore at UW-Stevens Point, and other friends and family members. He and his wife, Leisa, are looking at homes in Edgerton and plan to become active members of the community.
Kowalski said he has “no agenda” going into his new position and will establish detailed goals after he meets his staff and officers. He said he has corresponded with Interim Chief Randy Meehan, who has been helpful in the transition.
The city announced last week that the police commission had hired Kowalski to replace former Chief Tom Klubertanz. He was chosen from a field of four finalists and 21 applicants.
Since 2015, Kowalski has been the police chief in Sauk Village, Illinois, a community of about 10,500 just south of Chicago. He said he was “let go” from the department when the village’s new mayor wanted to take the department in another direction.
Kowalski said he left no open homicide cases when he parted ways with Sauk Village, and he was proud of community initiatives he worked on, including National Night Out and Shop with a Cop.
He hopes to introduce some of those initiatives to Edgerton.
“I truly believe I made a positive impact on the town,” Kowalski said of Sauk Village.
Sauk Village Mayor Derrick Burgess appointed a new police chief in November, according to village board minutes.
Kowalski spent much of his career as a special agent in the FBI. His experience in federal law enforcement included investigations into white-collar crime, the Oklahoma City bombing, organized crime in Chicago and terrorism.
Kowalski said his experience working at the local, county and federal levels gives him access to resources he believes will benefit Edgerton.
The chief is not a stranger to the city.
Kowalski once attended a retreat at what is now Oaklawn Academy. Reminiscing about Oaklawn, along with a positive recommendation from an old friend who lives in Edgerton, helped nudge him into applying for the police chief job.
“I want to not only be a good leader for the police department, but for the citizens of Edgerton,” he said.