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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Naperville Mayor receives first ‘Dick Tracy Top Cop Award’


Today at City Hall, Mayor George Pradel took his place in Council Chambers just as he has many times during his 20 years as Mayor, waiting to be called by the Chief of Police to swear in or promote members of the Naperville Police Department.

During his stint as mayor, the former Naperville police sergeant has sworn in and promoted the majority of sworn individuals at the Naperville Police Department, noted Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall.  In total, he has sworn in and/or promoted 371 people and 134 of them continue to be employed by the department.

Of special significance today, however, was that Pradel conducted his final swearing in as mayor. On April 7, a new mayor will be elected to be seated on May 3.

Unknown to Pradel at the beginning of the ceremony as he waited way over on the right side of the chamber was that his last official duties for the NPD had attracted a bit of fanfare and a larger than usual audience.  His wife, Pat; daughter, Carol; longtime friends Mary and Dick Locher; and a number of fellow police officers who had influenced his career and vice versa were seated out of his sight way over on the left.

Prior to the swearing in ceremony, Pat Pradel, Dick Locher, Mary Locher, Carol Pradel, John Robbins, back left, and City Manager Doug Krieger waited to surprise Mayor George Pradel who was to be recognized with the first “Top Cop” Award.

Following the swearing in of two new officers, Kevin Roche and Ken Razionde; and the promotion of Scott Thorsen to sergeant, Mayor Pradel was feted with several tributes as well as the “Dick Tracy Top Cop Award,” all recognizing his 50-year commitment to public service first as a police officer, then as mayor. Naperville’s longest running mayor said he knew something was up when he saw his wife, Pat, sitting in the audience, because she is not accustomed to attending such events.

Mayor Pradel swore in officers Kevin Roche and Ken Razionde.

Pradel’s special recognition included brief remarks from Chief Marshall and Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, chairman of the Naperville Board of Fire & Police Commissionersas well as a few police department retirees Jon Ripsky, Former NPD Chief David Dial, Paul Shafer, and Mark Robbins.

Dial read a poem by Michael Josephson titled “What Will Matter” with a message that was repeated with other heartfelt remembrances from former officers who had worked with Pradel during his long career.

“..So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character…”

In the end, the resounding message was for officers to strive to be strong and kind like Pradel, the man who “invented community policing before community policing had a label,” Shafer said. “He was doing things that a lot of police officers thought didn’t make a difference. They were wrong.”

Highland Park Police Chief Paul Shafer and former Naperville Police Chief David Dial returned to the Council Chambers to see their longtime friend officiate his last swearing in of officiers.

The 90-minute ceremony likely will remain a lasting memory for all in attendance, a time when everyone was reminded of the sacrifices every police officer makes every day to “help people.”

Pradel’s friends reminisced about his three decades of dedication to the Naperville Police Department and another two decades as Naperville Mayor, a feat that never will be repeated.

“I wish everybody in the community could see it,” said Dial.

Perhaps today’s honor will remain even more lasting in light of Chief Marshall’s remarks, explaining that Sergeant Pradel had first met Sergeant Thorsen as a five-year-old enrolled in Safety Town, back when “Officer Friendly” was teaching the rules of the road.  The young Safety Town graduate had colored an image of a police officer wearing sergeant stripes, a picture Thorsen’s mother has saved all these years that was projected on the big screen in City Council Chambers throughout most of the ceremony.

This self-portrait of a police sergeant was colored by Scott Thorsen when he attended Safety Town and learned from “Officer Friendly.”

“I have so much respect for everyone… My heart is blessed,” said Pradel at the close of the ceremony. “Naperville means the world to me… I love doing the swearing ins… I love to yell… I just can’t tell you how much I love you.”

The Dick Tracy Top Cop Award

Editor’s Note: The Dick Tracy Top Cop Award is, in part, also a tribute to Naperville resident Dick Locher, the Dick Tracy cartoonist from 1983 to 2009.

John Robbins, owner of Awards and Fine Gifts since 1986, created the handsome crystal award emblazoned with a star to recognize dedicated public service.

The award is 10 inches tall and weighs 7.5 pounds. The image of Dick Tracy featured on the award is the same design as the Century Walk Dick Tracy bronze sculpture, located behind the Naperville Township Building.

Working with Police Chief Bob Marshall on the selection, this year’s award says, “The Dick Tracy Top Cop Award presented to Mayor A. George Pradel in recognition of your dedicated public service to the Naperville community. 1964-2015.”

PUBLIC SAFETY POSTS: Naperville’s Focus on Public Safety 

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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