The circle of life in Elgin PD shown in retirements, promotion
By Dave Gathman email@example.com May 11, 2012 8:14PM
Officer Katy Potts has her Sergeant badge pinned on by her husband, Officer Waylon Potts, of the West Chicago Police Department, during a ceremony at the Elgin Law Enforcement Facility in Elgin, Ill., on Friday, May 11, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: June 14, 2012 8:22AM
ELGIN — In a ceremony attended by some 100 people Friday afternoon, the Elgin Police Department said goodbye to someone who had served longer than anyone else in EPD history, promoted a patrol officer to sergeant and swore in a new recruit.
But many in the audience may best remember the retirement speech from a female sergeant, Joanne Demmin, who was known for no-nonsense gutsiness during her years on duty but left the crowd in laughter with her witty remembrances of a woman entering a world that ran on testosterone.
Noting the combination of coming, going and advancement, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda began by saying that “today we are marking the circle of life in the Elgin Police Department.”
Demmin follows her husband, John Demmin, who retired as an Elgin police sergeant just last winter. The two met while working together, and he proposed to her in the old police station.
Swoboda said Joanne Demmin was hired in 1987 and promoted to sergeant in 2002.
Swoboda said that what he will miss most about Demmin is “her honest perspective. And sometimes I even enjoyed what she had to say.”
Demmin recalled the difficulty a woman faced in finding a police job in the early 1980s.
During interviews, she said, prospective employers asked whether she was dating, whether she planned to get married and how many children she hoped to have. “I figured men were being asked all these questions, too.”
The questioning reached its nadir, she said, when she interviewed for an opening with the Geneva Police Department and they asked her, “Wouldn’t you be worried about being raped during a bar fight?”
“On the way home, I remember thinking, ‘Does Geneva even HAVE bar fights?’ ” Demmin said. “In all the bar fights I’ve been dispatched to since then, often as the only female officer present, I’ve never even been groped.”
But after being hired in Elgin, she said, she found “only people who wanted me to succeed. I’ve seen investigators sleep at their desks because they’ve been working a homicide for days on end. I’ve seen radio operators at their desk for hours without so much as a bathroom break.”
Now, retired alongside John, she said, “We’ll find out whether two opinionated people can live in harmony in the same little house 24/7, 365 days a year.”
John Panzloff, who started with the department as a patrolman way back in 1968, retired as a sworn officer in 1998. But Friday he retired a second time after working for 14 years as an auxiliary service officer. His new job was to shuttle prisoners and papers to the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows and make sure other officers knew when they had to go to Rolling Meadows to testify.
That total of 44 years as a patrolman and auxiliary officer shatters the old record for Elgin police service of 37 years, set by the late Ron Sexton in the mid-20th century.
“It’s been a ride — 44 years. And my badge is No. 44,” Panzloff said.
Officer Katy Potts was sworn in as sergeant to replace Demmin. A native of Elgin and daughter-in-law of now-retired Elgin Pubic Works Department employee Bill Potts, she graduated from DePaul University ad was hired by the EPD in 2000. Swoboda said she was named American Legion Police Officer of the Year for 2012, and she has experience as a ROPE (Resident Officer Program of Elgin) officer, patrol officer on all three shifts, and training officer.
“A lot of people work very hard at an assignment they like,” the chief said. “Katy works very hard even when she doesn’t have the most exciting and glamorous job — figuring out whether someone’s pepper spray has expired or whether someone has been issued the right uniform..”
Potts aid she met her husband, Waylon Potts, while he was working as a community service and animal control officer with the EPD. Waylon is now a sworn patrolman with the West Chicago Police Department, a half-dozen of whose members attended Friday’s ceremony.
Sworn in as Elgin’s newest patrol officer was James Olsen, who holds a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Southern Illinois University and previously worked for 12 years on the Geneva Police Department. Olsen did not say whether he had been asked about fear of bar fights or his parenthood plans when he was hired by Geneva.