Police Honor Citizens, Det. Rzyski as Officer of the Year

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Detective Brian Rzyski, shown here with his son, was honored as Officer of the Year Sunday. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The Park Forest Police Department held its 2008 Honors Ceremony Sunday at Nathan Manilow Freedom Hall. The event, which began at noon, honored six citizens and many officers in the Police Department. Detective Brian Rzyski was named Officer of the Year. Citizens honored include Glenna Hennessy, Sharon Williams, Marcy Milligan, Kenya Kelly, Sam Polletta, Taron Williams, and Joel Baker.

During 2008 Detective Brian Rzyski has been assigned to the Investigations Division and has been involved in countless felony investigations in Park Forest and numerous Homicide investigations while being a part of South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. Detective Rzyski has cleared by arrest the following incidents: 6 forgeries, 3 armed robberies, 2 robberies, 1 attempt robbery, a predatory criminal sexual assault, 10 criminal damage property incidents, a motor vehicle theft, and the burglary/theft of the Fire Department equipment and subsequent recovery of $35,000 of that property.

In another residential burglary case, Detective Rzyski, through a search warrant, recovered most of the $20,000 in property that had been taken. In an armed robbery case that was almost a year old Detective Rzyski developed a suspect and through careful investigation was able to make an arrest. In a sexual assault case, Detective Rzyski solved a predatory criminal sexual assault that had occurred 5 years prior. He obtained a written confession from the offender who was subsequently charged with 3 Class X felonies.

The citation honoring Rzyski said in part:

Detective Rzyski has also maintained his role as the Department’s only Fire Investigator and responded to arson scenes collecting evidence and directing the investigations. As a senior investigator in the Investigations Division, he has been called upon to assist other investigators with serious crimes and in developing the skills of new investigators assigned to the division. Detective Rzyski is relied upon by his supervisors to make decisions regarding investigations and incidents that would normally be made by a supervisor. He is recognized as being an extremely skilled interviewer and routinely obtains written confessions. His knowledge of the judicial system, the state’s attorney’s office and Village of Park Forest has allowed him to develop into a skilled investigator who has become relied upon as a valuable asset to not only Park Forest Police Department but the South Suburbs as part of the Major Crime Task Force. He has truly earned the title of the 2008 Park Forest Officer of the year.

Glenna Hennessy

Glenna Hennessy wasn honored for her efforts in helping to apprehend a burglary suspect. According to police, on Saturday, December 9th 2006, the Park Forest Police were dispatched to the 300 block of Sioux in reference to a report of a suspicious subject call. While the officers were enroute, further information was dispatched and the call changed to a possible burglary, and information about a vehicle was given. The vehicle and suspect were located by Officer John Sweitzer and a crowbar recovered. Further investigation found that entry had been made to the garage of a residence in the 300 block of Sioux.

Glenna Hennessy had observed the suspect in her yard and knocking on her door, but he left when she approached. She dialed 911 and gave not only an excellent description of the suspect but also of his car and the license plate on the car and then identified him in a show up.

Further interviewing by the Investigations Division led to the suspect not only being charged with residential burglary to Mrs. Hennessy’s residence, but three other residences in the Will County section of town. As the next year rolled on, Glenna Hennessy appeared numerous times in Markham Court to assist in the prosecution which ultimately led to the suspect being convicted of residential burglary and sentenced to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Sharon Williams

On the afternoon of May 7, 2008, Sharon Williams noticed five juveniles walking around a neighbor’s house. When Williams saw the juveniles walk into the back yard and disappear, she called 911. While on the telephone, she saw the juveniles enter the residence. Williams provided clothing descriptions of the juveniles as they left the residence.

When five subjects were stopped by Officers in the area minutes later, Williams was able to identify them as the same juveniles she saw enter her neighbor’s home. The juveniles were found to have several items from the burglarized home on their persons. During subsequent interviews, the juveniles confessed to several more residential burglaries committed in Park Forest.

Because Sharon Williams became involved in helping protect her neighborhood by calling 911, Officers were able to arrest five subjects and recover property taken in several residential burglaries, including two stolen firearms.

Marcy Milligan

In June of 2008, Marcy Milligan observed a suspicious subject in the yard behind her home. As she watched him, she saw him enter a house nearby through a lower level window. She contacted the Police and gave a clothing description of the suspect and told them where the suspicious person had gone into the neighbor’s house. The Police entered the house and found the man hiding under a bed in one of the bedrooms. Mrs. Milligan was on hand to identify the suspect as he was escorted from the house. The owner of the house said the suspect was not allowed in his home and signed complaints against him. Mrs. Milligan, a long-time volunteer in Park Forest, was aware of who did or did not live in her neighborhood and was willing to get involved in an effort to keep her neighborhood safe.

Kenya Kelly

Through the summer of 2008, the Autumn Ridge Apartment Complex had been the scene of multiple Burglaries to Motor Vehicles. In the evening hours of August 8, 2008, Kenya Kelly was on the balcony of her apartment when she observed two subjects looking into parked vehicles in the lot using flashlights. Ms. Kelly immediately dialed 911 to report the incident and after the police arrived and located two subjects, she positively identified them in a show up. Further investigation of those subjects led to both being charged with felony possession of burglary tools.

Kenya Kelly should be commended not only for her quick action in calling 911 when she observed suspicious activity but for also being willing to be part of the “Show-Up” process that identified the offenders in a society that many times does not wish to “be involved,” according to police. Her willingness to be a “good neighbor” led to the arrest of two subjects who had come into her neighborhood with the sole purpose of breaking into vehicles.

Sam Polletta

On October 9, 2008, Sam Polletta was walking in the woods south of Steger Road and observed what appeared to be a person hanging from a tree. Mr. Polletta marked the area where the body was by using the only items he had available: napkins. Mr. Polletta put the napkins at eye level on tree branches to assist him in finding the location again. He was able to flag down a passing squad car and told the Officer what he had found. The Officer escorted Mr. Polletta back into the woods by following the trail of napkins until they located the body. It was later learned the subject hanging had taken his own life. Mr. Polletta became involved in an unfortunate situation and had the presence of mind to make a path back to the scene where a suicide was located. His willingness to get involved helped a family learn what had happened to their loved one.

Taron Williams

On Friday, January 18, 2008, a bedroom on the second floor of a residence in the 21000 block of Central Park became engulfed in flames. Taron Williams, visiting at a neighbor’s house, saw smoke pouring out of the upstairs bedroom window. Williams entered the home and found the elderly resident asleep inside the burning home. Williams woke the resident, assisted him in quickly dressing, and helped the disabled resident get out of the house and out of harm’s way as smoke filled the lower level of the home. Despite the residence being badly damaged by the fire and smoke, the elderly resident was uninjured due to the quick action of Williams.

Taron Williams should be recognized for his quick action and complete disregard for his own safety in entering a burning residence to check for people inside, and then upon finding an elderly resident sleeping, remaining in harm’s way to assist the resident in safely getting out of the building. His actions potentially saved the life of the elderly man.

Joel Baker

On August 13, 2008, Joel Baker was standing outside of his home when he saw a car across the street being repaired by its owner. Suddenly Mr. Baker saw the vehicle fall off the jack stand and he heard a young child screaming in pain. Mr. Baker saw the child’s legs under the car, kicking up and down. He ran across the street and saw a nine year old under the car, still screaming, with her head trapped under the car. Mr. Baker grabbed the front of the car and began to lift it up to free the young child. Mr. Baker, although struggling to maintain his hold on the vehicle, was able to hold the car up until the owner put a second jack under it. The child was rescued and taken to the hospital where she was found to have no broken bones but would need surgery in the future. Although Mr. Baker was fighting extreme fatigue in his rescue attempt, he was able to hold the car up long enough to where the child’s life was saved.