New EP police sergeant has had a Monster career
There’s a new sergeant in town.
Evergreen Park board members voted unanimously Monday night to approve Abel Salazar’s promotion from the police tactile unit to police sergeant after five years with the force.
Salazar, who said that five years ago he had his resume on Monster.com in hopes of getting a police gig, said his first few weeks on the job as a patrolman were full of adrenaline.
“I received three commendations within my first three months,” said Salazar.
Commendations are often awarded when an officer has been in grave personal danger in the performance of duty or has had a highly credible, unusual police accomplishment.
In Salazar’s case, one of them was received for his involvement in capturing suspects in the armed robbery of a Barraco’s Pizza delivery driver in December, 2009.
He had flashbacks during that incident.
“That kid being robbed at gunpoint was me,’’ he said. “I had an armed robbery committed against me when I was 17. I felt lucky to be in a position to protect him. There were guns drawn with helicopters flying over our heads. I loved it!”
The fast pace of high crime during Salazar’s first few months were short-lived.
“Things really mellowed out after that,’’ he said. “Evergreen Park is one of the safest towns anyone could ever live in.”
After a year as patrolman, Salazar was promoted to the radar unit, which he said specialized in keeping the roads clear of those driving erratically.
He only remained in that position four seasons before being promoted again, this time to Special Weapons and Tactics, aka SWAT. He’s spent the previous three years in SWAT, serving alongside his partner Steven Hart.
Hart was noticeably happy for Salazar the two posed for a picture during the board meeting. He was there for support as were a host of Salazar’s family members.
“Hard work naturally pays off,” Mayor Jim Sexton said. “He came in five years ago, has been well trained and educated on the job and he’s done a good job.”
Salazar said prior to being on the EP Police department he worked at Little Company of Mary Hospital in the processing department.
“I don’t remember how old I was but I always thought maybe one day I would be a police officer. While working at Little Company, I started applying for positions in law enforcement. I kept my resume current on Monster.com.” Salazar said.
“Evergreen Park was the first one to give me a chance and because of that, I will never leave. The head chief and deputy chiefs are some of the best people to work for.”
Salazar studied biochemistry while attending school at Purdue University’s Calumet campus. He said discontinued classes to join the police force.
“This is where I’m supposed to be.” Salazar said. “I’m very focused about getting criminals off the street.”
With some of the national attention on police misdeeds, Salazar and Sexton expressed concerns about the state of the nation’s view on police.
“My father was a police officer for 35 years,’’ the mayor said. “No one knows more than I do about the key life events he missed while out protecting the community. It’s easy to criticize our officers but they have a tough job, they go through a lot.”
“It’s unfortunate that a few bad apples can mess up the image of an entire force,” Salazar said. “I risk my life every day to save people I’ve never met. As a sergeant, I intend to coach, guide and direct every officer to treat everyone fair. In all my time on the force, I only know of receiving one complaint. I de-escalate situations by choosing to talk to people with respect.
“We’re blessed to do what we do.”