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Park Forest
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Four Officers Promoted in Park Forest, Including New Police Chief and First Female Sergeant

Chief of Police Paul Winfrey, Sergeant Meghan Vold, and Deputy Chief John DeCeault with colleagues, friends, and family members.
Chief of Police Paul Winfrey, Sergeant Meghan Vold, and Deputy Chief John DeCeault with colleagues, friends, and family members after each took the oath of office Monday night. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Before an overflow crowd Monday night in the board room, Village Manager Tom Mick promoted and swore in four veteran police officers to higher ranks. Those sworn-in included a new Chief, Deputy Chief, Commander, and the Village of Park Forest’s first female Sergeant, Meghan Vold. Sgt. Vold’s promotion shattered a seventy-plus-year glass ceiling for positions that had previously only been held by men.

Village Manager Mick read from a prepared statement, highlighting each officer’s career before he administered the oath of office to each.

Sergeant Vold was sworn in first.

“Meghan Vold joined the Park Forest Police Department in 2014,” Mr. Mick said. “Within two years, she was assigned to be a Field Training Officer. Meghan worked for 5 years at Rich East High School as a Police Liaison, building strong rapport and connections with the community youth. In 2015, she was assigned to the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team as an Accident Investigator. As of last year, she has been assigned as a Team Leader. In 2019, she was assigned to the Investigations Divison. In 2021, Meghan was the first Park Forest Officer to serve as a class supervisor at the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy guiding police recruits through their basic training. Meghan continues this impactful role as an adjunct instructor at the academy.”

officers promoted, Sergeant Meghan shatters a glass ceiling in Park Forest as she Vold takes the oath of office.
Sergeant Meghan shatters a glass ceiling in Park Forest as she takes the oath of office while Deputy Village Clerk Angela Thurston looks on. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

“She is the recipient of over 30 outstanding service awards, one meritorious award, one term award, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Medal of Valor,” the Manager continued. “Meghan has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Law Enforcement and a Master’s of Science degree in Public Safety Administration through Calumet College of St. Joseph. During her tenure at Park Forest, Meghan has immersed herself in community policing.  Meghan is not only passionate about her training and education but equity in law enforcement. Meghan is immensely grateful for the support from her family, peers, and community.  Pinning the Sergeant’s badge on Meghan will be her mother, Joyce, and father, Mark.”

The next of the officers promoted to take the oath was Commander Kristopher Vallow.

“Kristopher Vallow is a second-generation police officer,” the Manager began, “following in the footsteps of his father.

“Kristopher started his law enforcement career in 2002 with the East Hazel Crest Police Department. In May of 2009, Kristopher joined the Park Forest Police Department, and within a year was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Unit.

“In 2018, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. During the course of his career, Kristopher also served as a Tactical Officer and Criminal Investigator with the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and the Major Accident Reconstruction Team.

“He is the recipient of over 30 outstanding service awards, three meritorious awards, and the Medal of Valor and was named Officer of the Year in 2012. Kristopher has a Bachelor’s Degree in Science for Public Safety Management through the Calumet College of St. Joseph.

Commander Christopher Vallow smiles as his son pins his badge to his dad's lapel.
Commander Christopher Vallow smiles as his son pins his badge to his dad’s lapel. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

“However prestigious that sounds, Kristopher’s greatest achievements come from his personal life, which he created with his wife of 16 years, Jillian Vallow. Kristopher denotes a lot of his success on the support he receives from Jillian.

“Together, they have three wonderful children; Jocelyn, Nolan and Camden. During his off time he enjoys coaching kid’s hockey and preparing for the upcoming camping season with his family.

“Pinning the Commander’s badge on Kristopher will be his children, Jocelyn, Nolan, and Camden.”

Commander Vallow then took the oath of office and one of his sons pinned his badge on the officer’s lapel. His daughter then tweaked her brother’s work and perfected the badge’s appearance on her father’s uniform.

John DeCeault was next sworn in as Deputy Chief.

“John DeCeault is a 15-year veteran of the Park Forest Police Department,” Village Manager Tom Mick said. “He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University where he was also a member of the varsity wrestling team. John continued his education and later earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Calumet College of Saint Joseph.

“During the course of his career, he has served as a field training officer, tactical officer, a detective, was assigned to the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. He is a defensive tactics instructor, a department accreditation coordinator, and most recently was a Commander in the Patrol Division.

Village Manager Tom Mick administers the oath of office to Deputy Chief John DeCeault.
Village Manager Tom Mick administers the oath of office to Deputy Chief John DeCeault. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

“John was the department’s 2010 Officer of the Year and has been the recipient of approximately 36 outstanding Service Awards, four meritorious awards, and five-term awards.

“John recently graduated from the 281st Session of the FBI National Academy representing the Park Forest Police Department amongst law enforcement leaders from 45 U.S. states, the District of Colombia, and 32 countries.

“John is also a husband and father to his three children Jason, Jackson, and Jordyn.  John’s free time consists of coaching a variety of youth sports. Pinning the Deputy Chief’s badge on John will be his wife Leslie.”

Manager Mick then administered the oath of office to Deputy Chief DeCeault.\

Finally, Deputy Chief Paul Winfrey was sworn-in at Park Forest’s 13th chief. Village Manager Mick reflected on Chief Winfrey’s career in law enforcement which began in Sycamore, Illinois, in 1995.

“Paul A. Winfrey has longstanding ties to the Park Forest community, with both his grandparents and mother being lifelong residents,” Manager Mick said. “After being injured at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Paul returned to Park Forest and obtained his Associate in Arts Degree from Prairie State College and his bachelor’s degree from Governors State University.

“He is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.

“Mr. Winfrey began his law enforcement career in 1995 with the Sycamore Police Department before coming to Park Forest in 1998. Since that time, he has been assigned as a Patrol Officer, Canine Handler, Field Training Officer, Detective, Corporal (in both the Investigations and Patrol Divisions), Commander (Investigations and Patrol), and Deputy Chief of Police overseeing both Field Operations and Support Services.

Police Chief Paul Winfrey smiles as his wife Guadalupe affixes his badge to his uniform.
Police Chief Paul Winfrey smiles as his wife Guadalupe affixes his badge to his uniform. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

“Deputy Chief Winfrey currently serves on the Cook County Children’s Advocacy Center’s Advisory Board. Previous activities include being the Team Leader for the Crisis Negotiation Unit of the South Suburban Emergency Response Team (SSERT) and almost ten years as the Coordinator of the Police Liaison Program at Rich East High School.

“Deputy Chief Winfrey continues his involvement with School Safety, working in the schools and being a member of the School District 163 Safety Committee.

“Paul has been married to his wife, Guadalupe, a 21-year Army Reserve Veteran, for over 26 years and together they have a 25-year old daughter and a 23-year old son.

“Pinning on his badge this evening will be his wife, Guadalupe,” the Manager said. Chief Winfrey then took the oath of office.

More photos from this board meeting are here on our PHOTOS page and on our Flickr page.

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