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Brendan Kelly

Brendan Kelly was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker and confirmed unanimously by the Illinois Senate to serve as the eighth Director of the Illinois State Police in 2019. As Director, Kelly leads a public safety agency of nearly 3,000 employees and seven unique divisions including the Divisions of Criminal Investigation, Patrol, Forensic Services, Justice Services, Academy and Training, Statewide 911, and Internal Investigation. 

Director Kelly oversees the operations and policy of statewide criminal investigations of violent crime, drug and gun trafficking, public corruption, and child exploitation; special operations including SWAT, air operations, federal task force officers and Illinois’ homeland security fusion center, STIC (Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center); criminal interdiction and traffic patrol functions; statewide crime scene investigations and forensic laboratories providing forensic services to all law enforcement agencies including Chicago PD for all forensic disciplines; 22 drug enforcement task forces; Illinois’ central repository for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and CJIS; training of state police cadets and local law enforcement recruits; implementation of Next Generation 911; and internal investigations of criminal misconduct by all Illinois executive branch employees. Director Kelly also serves on the Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, the board of Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers Association, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, and the Joint Analysis Center. 

As Director, Kelly has focused on rebuilding the Illinois State Police as the agency approaches its centennial. Director Kelly has sworn in over 200 new troopers, initiated long needed changes to the firearms background process and enforcement of firearms safety after the Henry Pratt shooting in Aurora, expanded the ISP’s officer wellness and support services with a federal grant from the Department of Justice, established a special investigative unit (SIU) focused on public corruption, and begun the massive effort to improve turn-around-time of forensic testing resulting in a 60% reduction in DNA backlog so far. Under Director Kelly, use-of-force policies, training, technology and resources have been brought into the 21st century, and, with the strong bi-partisan support of Governor and the general assembly, $120 Million is being invested in state police infrastructure over the next five years. Along with investing in digital forensics and improvements to recruitment and diversity, Kelly is an instructor at the Illinois State Police Academy and Special Agent School, as well as a proud graduate of the ISP DCI Special Agent School. 

Working with federal, state and local law enforcement and homeland security partners, Director Kelly has lead the statewide law enforcement response to Covid-19, 2020 civil unrest, and 2020 election-related security. Kelly is also a member of the First Responder Suicide Task Force, chair of the Illinois’ Move Over Task Force and the Governor’s Forensic Sciences Commission, and oversees the state law enforcement role in cannabis regulation. 

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Louis University School of Law, Kelly has had a wide range of experience with law enforcement and public safety. As a young man, Kelly volunteered with a non-profit group that worked with law enforcement, combating child prostitution in Calgary, Alberta. During his military service as an officer in the United States Navy, Kelly conducted research on Israeli-Palestinian joint police patrols and was awarded two Navy Achievement Medals and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. 

Kelly was a prosecutor and an elected State’s Attorney for eight years prosecuting every level of crime from gun crimes and drug trafficking to crimes against children and heinous murders, serving as president of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Association as a member of the National District Attorneys Association Board of Governors. Kelly was appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner to the Illinois Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission, and was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker to the Illinois Hate Crimes Commission. He and the Attorney General of Illinois co-chaired the Illinois Sexual Assault Law Enforcement Working Group. Kelly also served as a non-governmental observer for the National District Attorney’s Association at the Guantanamo military tribunal prosecutions of terrorism. 

Kelly received an Illinois Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hero Award and received an award from the Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission and Southern Illinois Police Chief's Association for his efforts at fighting crime. Kelly comes from a family of law enforcement and military service. Kelly is a member of the Illinois State Police Command Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the IACP Homeland Security Committee. Kelly was also selected this year to be part of FBI NEI 44. He is married to an oncology nurse and has two sons.