Debra K. Kirby, Esq.

Senior Vice President, Operations

Debra Kirby serves as the Senior Vice President for Hillard Heintze’s Operations. She drives efficiency in our operations and supports our larger law enforcement and cross-practice projects for municipal and corporate clients.

She has been a champion for change throughout her career in the public safety field. Before working for Hillard Heintze, Debra was a Deputy Chief Inspector with the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, which reports to the Minister of the Irish Department of Justice and Equality. Debra recommended improvements within An Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland, and made major contributions to critical issues involving crime investigation, organizational reform and modernization, and child sexual abuse.

Debra retired from the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the second largest police department in the U.S., as Chief of the Bureau of Organizational Development. She held leadership positions in multiple administrative, investigative and operational domains. In 2012, Debra served as the law enforcement lead and co-chair for the 2012 NATO Summit National Special Security Event in Chicago during which the CPD provided world-class service with minimal disruption to the event or ongoing business, an unprecedented outcome. During her career in the CPD, her accomplishments ranged from establishing community policing practices within the investigative function and developing a whole of community response to domestic violence to implementing a task force approach to stopping violence at licenses premises.

Debra brings command experience in patrol operations, investigations, organized crime, law enforcement training, policy development, data-led policing and internal affairs with an acute focus on integrity systems, covert operations and the need for strong accountability practices in support of operational priorities. She also established the first Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)/Internal Affairs Task Force in the U.S. As a result, federal investigations and administrative actions directed at serious misconduct increased significantly.

Debra served as General Counsel to the Superintendent and led reform on prisoner treatment, LGBT policies and officer-involved shooting (OIS) reviews. Partnering with the independent oversight agency for the CPD’s use of force, the Independent Police Review Authority, she established formal review of OIS focused on identifying training, supervision and policy issues and resolution. She was an instrumental partner in developing the CPD’s response protocol for OIS in agreement with the Review Authority.

Debra has significant labor relations experience, having negotiated with the City to obtain the first supervisor’s contract for CPD sergeants, and later representing the CPD as General Counsel in labor negotiations and grievances for all members of the department.

A licensed attorney in the State of Illinois, Debra has a master’s degree in homeland security awarded by the

Naval Postgraduate School and an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and was a Fulbright Scholar for Law Enforcement working with the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

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