By Joe Boyle
Worth Mayor Mary Werner said when Mark Micetich was hired as the village's new police chief, he made her a promise.
"He (Micetich) told me that when he retired, he was going to make it a difficult decision to hire someone because they will all be qualified," Werner said. "In the past, we always had to hire from outside the community."
The mayor said Micetich kept his promise.
Micetich retired as the Worth police chief this spring but an official acknowledgement of his efforts had to be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The village board had been holding Zoom sessions the past few months and waited until the July 21 meeting to officially say goodbye to Micetich.
Promoted as the police chief in Worth in 2014, Micetich had risen through the ranks after starting as a patrol officer in 1992. Micetich then spent two years as a member of the investigations division before returning to patrol as a sergeant in 2004.
A promotion to lieutenant followed two years later. On Nov. 18, 2014, he was promoted to chief of police, a position he held until his last day of duty in May. The new police chief for Worth is Timothy Denton, whom board members praised for his experience and dedication to duty.
The mayor said that Denton is a great choice to replace Micetich and added that there are many great candidates currently with the Worth Police Department.
"My background was office management," Werner said. "I knew nothing about the police department but I told him that I had 100 percent confidence in his ability. He has not let us down."
Along with Werner, board members thanked Micetich, who was in attendance. Many of the thanks were emotional while others were humorous.
Micetich also thanked everyone in attendance. Since becoming chief six years ago, a clean transition of the department has taken place for a more cohesive relationship with the community, he said.
"We also met with the men and women of the police department to find out their likes and dislikes," Micetich told the audience. "I will put our program up against any other police department."
Micetich was quite proud of the partnership with local schools and the job that Officer Mike Cozzi has performed working with the administrations and with the students.
"We gave more responsibility to our supervisors and our morale changed," Micetich said. "The new members of our police department are second to none. We have officers who have lunch with students to help if they are being bullied. And we play volleyball with the students and they can wait to play. We have had a great reception from the principals and we can't thank them enough for their support."
Micetich said it was disappointing that specific ceremonies could not take place at local schools this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that officers who work hard for the department have been rewarded. When he started in the Worth police force, 15 percent of the staff had master's degrees. Now the number of the Worth command staff with master's degrees are at 75 percent, he said.
He added that the quality of Worth officers has improved due to the fact they are rewarded for their hard work. And that is whey he made the promise to the mayor that she will have many qualified candidates when he stepped down.
Micetich said that along with partnering with the schools, the department works closely with the Worth Lions Club and the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post. Micetich said the force has also found it rewarding taking part in providing baskets of food for the Thanksgiving drive and baskets of goods and toys for those in need at Christmas.
"I truly understand now that being a police officer is a family matter," said an emotional Werner. "Many times they miss holidays and birthdays to keep us safe. You keep telling everyone it was a group effort, but six years ago you made it that way.
"We are in good hands with Chief Denton but we are going to miss you very much," the mayor told Micetich.
The board gave Micetich a standing ovation at that point. The retired chief was grateful but admits it will be good to be home.
"During the years with the police force my family has had suffered a bit but it has not been that bad," Micetich said. "But if it wasn't for my wife and all she did at home, I just don't know. She did a great job. It will be nice to be around the house more."