By Cassidy Delahunty, executive entertainment editor
While it’s pretty obvious that the high-stakes world of being a cop commonly portrayed on TV isn’t a direct representation of reality, according to Mount Prospect Police Department Officer Greg Sill, the job can still be pretty exciting.
However, for Sill, the most exciting part of his job isn’t what most people might think.
“Some of the most exciting times for me is going in[to a school] and having [little kids] just so excited about having a police officer there,” Sill said. “Being able to sit there and talk to them and let them ask questions and just let them know, ‘Hey, we’re here to help.’”
Sill does acknowledge, however, that not everyone is always as excited to see police officers as fourth graders are.
“We, a lot of times, deal with people at their low points, … and it can be hard,” Sill said. “We have people who are caught in a cycle of violence, and we might be going back to that house over and over and over again. It’s hard to deal with that because you want to have that person get help. You want to try and help them as much as possible. If they don’t want the help, it’s not going to happen.”
While it might seem like some of that TV drama does end up sneaking its way into his day-to-day, Sill says that the reality of the job still is mainly composed of paperwork.
“While it’s exciting and interesting, it’s not what people see on TV,” Sill said, placing his estimate of accuracy at about 15 percent. “We don’t solve crimes in a matter of 48 minutes [or] an hour show with commercials. It’s a little bit more involved.”
Despite how involved police work can be, according to Sill, getting a degree in law enforcement doesn’t seem like a necessity to become a cop.
While Sill has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, looking back, he now wishes he had branched out a bit.
“You don’t need to have a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice or anything even law-related to become a police officer,” Sill said. “It’s actually more advantageous for people to have degrees in other things or have specialties in other things. It helps them be a more well-rounded officer. When you come and you get hired as a police officer, you go to the police academy, they teach you the law, they teach you the tactics, they teach you how to become a police officer. What you can bring to [the job] outside of [the academy training] is going to help make you successful. … Do something you love. Do something that’s different. It’s going to benefit you a lot more as an officer.”
As much as he loves his job, Sill does not think just anyone is fit to be a police officer.
“A great police officer is made from a selfless person,” Sill said. “You really have to be willing to go and help everyone and anyone anytime. You can’t be doing the job of police officer to get recognition. You can’t be doing it because it’s all about you because it’s not. It’s all about the community.”
For Sill, the community he works in is one of the most valuable and treasured parts of his job. Considering the tense atmosphere surrounding police officers in recent months, Sill feels fortunate to work where he does.
“[Police work] absolutely is a fulfilling job, especially here in Mt. Prospect,” Sill said. “We have a community [where] they love us, we love them, and they really have stepped up and really made that known.”