New Lombard police chief knows town, people 'inside and out'

Roy Newton is one of those people who never veered from his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.

Now he's police chief in the town where he grew up.

Lombard swore in Newton as its new chief before a village board meeting Thursday evening, although he'd already been working as chief for seven weeks.

The brief ceremony was a hometown comedy skit as much as it was a welcome to the longtime cop whom village officials said was the clear choice to lead the department upon the retirement in July of 15-year chief Ray Byrne.

"He has a sense of humor. He's a lot of fun," Byrne said about Newton, who was promoted to chief from the position of deputy chief, which he held since 2013. "When it's time to work, he knows how to work."

Newton, 51, of Glen Ellyn, began his police career 31 years ago as an explorer cadet and community service officer before being sworn in as an officer in 1995. He said becoming chief was never "on my career arc," but remaining on the force was. Rising through the ranks came naturally.

"You always think you can do that next level," he said.

Newton thanked his late father, his mother and other relatives, fellow police officers, village staff members and trustees for the honor of the "chiefdom," saying he plans to lead Lombard's officers forward with continued strength in community relations and services.

Village President Keith Giagnorio joked that Newton must have passed "double secret probation" in order to become chief. Then he took a more serious tone and welcomed the police department's new leader to his post.

"We appreciate what you've done so far and what you're going to do," Giagnorio said. "Good luck."

Village Manager Scott Niehaus got in on the razzing, too, but turned his attention more to Byrne, saying as a retiree, he only showed up for the free food - a large cake layered with chocolate, vanilla and strawberries. To Newton, Niehaus offered words of trust in the "Norman Rockwell-esque" rise of his career from police explorer to chief in the same department.

"You know the town," Niehaus said. "You know the people in and out."

After administering Newton his oath of office, Village Clerk Sharon Kuderna turned the crowd to laughter, too.

"Roy and I went to high school together," she said, recalling their days at Glenbard East. "Whenever we'd want to get into a little mischief or trouble, Roy would say, 'No! You can't do that!'"

Such rule-following came naturally, too, for a Lombard boy who wanted to be a cop since he was 6. Newton said he's excited to continue the next step in his police career as his hometown's chief.

"It's just something," he said, "that gets ingrained in you and sticks with you."

Lombard picks new police chief from inside department

  Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio introduces new Police Chief Roy Newton before Newton was sworn in to the top rank in the department where he's worked his entire professional career of 31 years. Marie Wilson/
  Lombard Police Chief Roy Newton takes the oath of office from Village Clerk Sharon Kuderna, who happens to be a high school classmate of his from Glenbard East. Kuderna said even in high school, Newton was a cop at heart, and would discourage his classmates from doing mischievous things. Marie Wilson/
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