By Jeff Vorva
Tim McCarthy is going to retire as police chief this spring.
Wait … what?
Didn’t he already retire in August? Didn’t the village of Orland Park give him a nice sendoff? Didn’t he say he wanted to spend more time with his seven grandchildren?
Yes, yes and yes.
But McCarthy, 71, was three months into his retirement from Orland when he accepted a job in December as the interim chief in neighboring Mokena while that community searches for a new police chief.
“I didn’t think I would get back into it, but Mokena called,” he said. “And four of my grandkids live in Mokena.”
He needed the final seal of approval – the OK from his wife, Carol.
He got it.
“When they called, I told her about it and she said ‘well, it’s COVID time and its winter and you can’t do much anyway,’’’ he said. “She said it was only for a few months and go ahead and do it.”
So, while Mokena goes through the process of selecting a new boss to replace retired Steven Vaccaro, McCarthy will lead the force and is on a committee to select a new chief as well. He figures that Mokena officials will soon announce the new chief and he can embark on his permanent retirement.
He said he Mokena department is great to work with but after spending close to 50 years in law enforcement, he is happy to hand the position off to someone else.
He also said that based on his retirement agreement, he cannot go back to work in a full-time position in an Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund community.
“I couldn’t do it even if I wanted to,” McCarthy said. “While this is a nice community, I retired for a reason.”
Mokena Mayor Frank Fleischer said he was happy to have a veteran such as McCarthy to help make the transition smooth.
“Chief McCarthy has been around a long time and we’re very lucky to get him,” Fleischer said.
McCarthy has been the chief of Orland Park from May, 1994 through August, 2020.
Prior to his long stint in Orland Park, he was with the secret service and took a bullet to the chest on March 30, 1981 when he helped thwart an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
Among McCarthy’s accolades was winning the inaugural Chief of Police of the Year award from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police in 2016.