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Lt. Joe Gliniewicz: 30-year veteran of the force, mentor to youth, married father of four

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FOX LAKE, Illinois — Whoever killed Lt. Joe Gliniewicz probably didn’t know he was a father of four. They probably didn’t know he was just weeks away from retirement after serving 30 years. They probably didn’t know he spent his free time mentoring youths in the community.

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

But everything Gliniewicz lived for ended Tuesday when he was on patrol once again in Fox Lake, Illinois. He encountered three suspicious people and gave a description of the men over the radio, saying he was chasing them.

It was the last time anyone heard from Gliniewicz. The 52-year-old was gunned down, for no obvious reason. And a massive manhunt is underway to find the three suspects.

Above and beyond

Gliniewicz’s passion for police work went far beyond what he was paid to do. He helped lead the Fox Lake Police Department Explorers Post, which mentors young people hoping to become law enforcement officers.

“He truly loved his job. He loved doing things for the Explorers, and his Explorers was a huge part of his life,” said Devan Arbay, one of Gliniewicz’s Explorers.

Arbay said the program teaches what officers really go through — from traffic stops to first aid to searches.

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

“He really dedicated hundreds of thousands of hours into bettering the Fox Lake community, the Illinois Law Enforcement Explorers and the National Law Enforcement Explorers.”

Gliniewicz planned to retire last month, Chicago TV station WMAQ reported. But the police chief asked him to stay one more month to help out.

The day before his death, Gliniewicz met with Mayor Donny Schmit to discuss his retirement plans and to make sure the Explorers program continued without him, CNN affiliate WLS said.

“His commitment to the people of this community has been unmatched and will be dearly missed,” the mayor said Tuesday. “Not only did Fox Lake lose a family member, I lost a very dear friend.”

An Army veteran and father

Those who knew him well called him “GI Joe.”

Gliniewicz was an Army veteran who served in active duty and reserve from 1980 to 2007. He left the military with a rank of first sergeant.

But of all his accomplishments, many who knew Gliniewicz said his biggest source of pride was his family, WMAQ said. Gliniewicz and his wife, Melodie, were married for 30 years and had four sons, including one who serves in the Army.

A lasting legacy

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

Lt. Joe Gliniewicz

When Arbay learned of his mentor’s death, the young man was in school.

“I immediately burst into tears, and I just couldn’t believe what I was being told,” he said. “It was heartbreaking for me, my Explorers, the community everyone.”

But he said his mentor’s death doesn’t deter him from becoming a police officer.

“Events like this will truly alter the opinions of some,” he said. “But for me, it truly makes myself want to become a police officer more and more and to fill his important work and continue doing what he did.”


  • Liz

    gun violence killing innocent people
    and police when are they going to make
    tougher gun control ,how can police
    Something has to be done too many nutjobs and bad
    people killing Do they have a mother ? WELL THEY HAVE NO SOUL
    This poor guy a wife and 4 kids , if I married a cop
    and he died I don’t know what I would do GOD FORBID anyone I marry dies…….

  • Liz

    its the “wild west ” out there and you know what there wondering
    why cops are having to shoot people they have a right to defend themselves
    is nt that a perk about being a cop . Hello let the police start shooting some of
    these evil people we have running around out there its like the old western movies
    now out there .

  • tomas

    US does not have a gun problem, we have a VIOLENCE PROBLEM. Lack of respect, zero value for human life, drugs, etc… Bad combo.

  • Latoya Hubbard

    The world needs to mind it’s own business. Go find something to do. And one comment should be good enough, not two.

Comments are closed.