JOLIET – Joliet’s finest took time to recognize its finest Wednesday. The Joliet Police Department held its annual awards ceremony at the Jacob Henry Mansion.
“As chief, I’ve gotten to travel and see many other departments in the state and across the country, and the more I do that the more I’m convinced I work with the finest police department there is,” Chief Brian Benton said.
Among those honored at Wednesday’s luncheon were VFW Cantigny Post Police Officer of the Year Brad McKeon and Exchange Club Police Officer of the Year John Williams.
McKeon is an 11-year veteran who has spent two years as a detective. He previously was assigned to the tactical unit and worked as an undercover narcotics officer.
“He has used his extensive knowledge of gang members and convicted felons to keep bad guys off the streets,” Sgt. Rob Hall said.
McKeon led the investigation division by closing 106 of the 126 cases assigned to him last year and worked on seven of the city’s nine murder cases.
“I became a [police officer] to make a difference,” McKeon said. “I was born in, raised in Joliet. I grew up on the East side, where I saw the impact the Joliet police had on the community and I wanted to be a part of that from an early age.”
Williams has been with the department for 17 years. As a patrol officer on the day shift, Williams made 65 arrests last year. His desire for a career in law enforcement started when a police officer came to speak to his second-grade class.
The department implemented electronic reporting last year and Williams, a computer enthusiast, taught many officers how to use the new system. He also enjoys working with young cops as a field training officer.
“It’s a chance to make an impression on future department members and instill in them what’s right about the Joliet Police Department,” he said.
Hannah Tischler was given a standing ovation from the officers present as she received the Citizen Award of Valor.
On the night before Thanksgiving, Hannah and her mother arrived at Wal-Mart on Jefferson Street when the 16-year-old girl saw something suspicious in the way a man was following an older woman in the parking lot. When the man grabbed the woman’s bags and then the woman, Tischler jumped from the car before her mom could put it in park.
“With no concern for her personal safety, [she] ran to assist the victim,” Hall said.
“He was on top of her. I pushed him off ... saying ‘Get off of her.’ He fell down, got up and ran away,” Tischler recalled.
Tischler then tended to the victim’s bloody nose and gave police a description that led to the bandit’s arrest.
“She needed help. I was glad to do it,” said Tischler, who plans to pursue a career in cosmetology or nursing.