Ti­mothy McCarthy, who took a bul­let for Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, to re­tire as Orland Park po­lice chief

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY CLARE PROC­TOR, STAFF RE­PORTER cproc­tor@sun­times.com | @ce­proc­tor23

Af­ter a 48-year ca­reer that in­cluded tak­ing a bul­let to pro­tect a U.S. pres­i­dent, Orland Park Po­lice Chief Ti­mothy McCarthy said it’s time to turn to his fam­ily.

McCarthy, 71, an­nounced Wed­nes­day he will re­tire Aug. 1. He said his “re­ward­ing ca­reer” in­cludes 26 years as chief of po­lice in Orland Park and 22 years work­ing for the U.S. Se­cret Ser­vice. While serv­ing on for­mer Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan’s pro­tec­tion divi­sion, McCarthy was shot in the chest pro­tect­ing Rea­gan from an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on March 30, 1981.

“I guess a mo­ment of ter­ror de­scribes it,” McCarthy said of the as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt. “You never think you’re go­ing to be in a sit­u­a­tion like that . ... I re­acted in a way I was trained to do.”

Grow­ing up on the South Side with a Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment sergeant as a fa­ther, McCarthy said he nat­u­rally felt drawn to law enforcemen­t. Af­ter col­lege, McCarthy joined the Se­cret Ser­vice in 1972 as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor at the Chicago field of­fice. He went on to serve in the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tion divi­sion for Pres­i­dents Jimmy Carter, Rea­gan and Ge­orge H. W. Bush be­fore re­turn­ing to Chicago, where he re­tired in 1993 as spe­cial agent in charge of the Chicago of­fice.

McCarthy took on the role as Orland Park po­lice chief in 1994, a job he said was “just as high stress” as his time work­ing in the Se­cret Ser­vice. He led devel­op­ment of new polic­ing strate­gies in the south­west sub­urb, in­clud­ing bike pa­trol of­fi­cers, cook­outs with cops and com­mu­nity meet­ings with beat of­fi­cers.

“Sit­ting po­lice chiefs only last usu­ally three to five years,” said for­mer Orland Park Cmdr. John Keat­ing, who was as­signed to the first bike pa­trol unit when McCarthy rolled out the pro­gram shortly af­ter he took over the depart­ment. “He’s been there for 26 years now. That’s unique in it­self.”

Keat­ing, who re­tired in 2016, said McCarthy never hes­i­tated to join of­fi­cers in the field, whether it was com­ing in as backup for a search war­rant or re­port­ing to a crime scene at 4 a.m.

For­mer Deputy Chief Jerry Hughes re­called when a week­end storm trig­gered flood­ing in Orland Park. As of­fi­cers were throw­ing sand­bags to dry out ar­eas, McCarthy stood right next to of­fi­cers, throw­ing the next bag, Hughes said.

In 2016, McCarthy re­ceived the first Chief of Po­lice of the Year Award from the Illi­nois As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice. Ed Wo­j­ci­cki, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, said McCarthy’s lead­er­ship ex­tended be­yond Orland Park to the en­tire pro­fes­sion of po­lice chiefs.

“We hope that ev­ery­body in law enforcemen­t has the high­est stan­dards and high­est de­gree of in­tegrity,” Wo­j­ci­cki said. “He demon­strated that.”

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said in a re­lease McCarthy has “faith­fully and dili­gently served” the vil­lage. McCarthy will be “sorely missed by ev­ery­one,” Pekau added.

McCarthy said he’s tak­ing on re­tire­ment with­out an agenda other than to spend time his wife, Carol, his three chil­dren and seven grand­chil­dren. He plans to stay in Orland Park.

Orland Park Deputy Po­lice Chief Joseph Mitchell will take over as in­terim chief.

“More so than the re­spect that he had in the po­lice com­mu­nity na­tion­ally, he’s an even bet­ter fam­ily man,” Keat­ing said. “I’ve never met a man who knew more peo­ple and en­deared as many peo­ple.”


Orland Park Po­lice Chief Ti­mothy McCarthy, who was shot in the chest as a mem­ber of Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan’s Se­cret Ser­vice de­tail in 1981, an­nounced his re­tire­ment Wed­nes­day.

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