One of the most honorable and humble people I have ever know is a man that I was able to work with for over 10 years. Before I worked with him I observed him during my childhood as his parents house was down the street from me and across the street from my friends house.
I remember seeing him pull up in his squad car, a very dashing and good looking guy–no I am not gay– who always waved to us kids and always seemed to have a smile on his face. I didn’t have any run-ins with him as a kid but I know that if I did they would have been worthy experiences as this man perpetuated the term honorable and humble.
A little background that I know about Phil is that he served his country in Vietnam. In fact, he had on his mantle a picture of him and his buddies in Vietnam. One Christmas party I remember talking to him about it and, while naming the other guys in the picture and where they ended up, his eyes teared up a bit. He was definitely a loyal friend.
When I became a police officer I remember seeing Phil in plain clothes and thinking that this was the guy I used to see all the time and he hasn’t even changed in all these years! Ha! He always smiled and said hello but I didn’t have much contact with him as he was in the detectives office and I was in patrol.
Then came a time where he truly showed what a professional police officer he was….One of my teenage sisters had gone missing–how many times have you other coppers dealt with this?–and I got to know Phil very well during this time. The situation was very stressful as one day I was contacted by a dipsh!t Sergeant that notified me that a body had been found in the forest preserve and that it sounded like my sister….Wtf, nothing like getting me in a tizzy without knowing the facts! Well, our Deputy Chief went to that scene and it wasn’t my sister….. To make a long story short, Phil ended up tracking my sister down and picked her up.
All the officers that I worked with showed some concern, some more than others, but Phil was unwavering in his concern, support, and determination in resolving it for me and for that I am forever grateful.
The time when I really got to know Phil was when after my favorite police chief, Dennis Koletsos, came on board and started shaking things up. Phil ended back in patrol and was in charge of the midnight shift. I got the pleasure of working with him during this time and really got to know him better.
He was an awesome supervisor, unlike the aforementioned police chief. All of the officers who worked under his supervision respected and admired him. We all worked harder for him and knew that he would support us and not backstab us. We also knew, and felt,Â that we couldn’t let him down and screw up and get him in trouble–that is the difference between a great supervisor and a shabby one. A shabby supervisor doesn’t get respect and the officers working for him/her don’t really care if they let them down or get them in hot water. We were like a tight family and enjoyed working with each other.
Phil always treated the bad guys with respect. He was the quintessential model of an officer that you read about in police training manuals. He used politeness and respect to others and elevated as the situation dictated. There were a couple times when I remember thinking that he was Clark Kent as he went from being mild-mannered to Superman in a flash! Although there always is, I do not ever remember anybody making a complaint about him.
Phil left the Northlake Police Department under messed up conditions. He really loved and was extremely dedicated to the job and didn’t want to go and stated as much to us officers that he trusted and confided in. I only know what he told me and what I heard about but this honorable man didn’t get treated with the dignity and respect that the department should have given him.
Briefly, a medical condition came up with his heart and his doctor eventually cleared him to work but–you guessed it–the city doctor didn’t clear him. It was during this period that the police chief, Dennis Koletsos, really started cleaning house and started, in my humble opinion, coming down on officers who didn’t agree with what he was doing. Phil was one of us who spoke up when they saw wrongful behavior and he supported the union–the union that Mr. Koletsos despised.
Maybe I am wrong but the extra stress that this honorable man was put through by the City of Northlake, which was led by Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin was not appropriate and should have been handled differently.
Well, Phil was forced into early retirement and fell back on his electrician profession. He even did some work on my house.
One thing that I regretted about Phil is that he smoked. I remember that he reminded me of my mother and grandmother in that he smoked often. This probably led to him being diagnosed with lung cancer. Damn smoking!
I know that I am not the only person who admired Phil and misses him to this day. He is truly, truly a role model for everyone who strives for an honorable life.
Oh, one more little tidbit that I find funny! When I was dating my wife in around 1999 or so, Phil pulled her over speeding one late night. She had just showered and was rushing to see me and had no makeup and wet hair, etc….when Phil stopped her! Ha! I wished I could have seen that! Anyway, she told him she was my girlfriend and he just laughed and told her to say hi and let her go…. He told me that story many times and always told me this: “Kenny, don’t you let her get away!” Well Phil, she is still here! 🙂