The Hanover Park Police Department does not officially have an "officer friendly" program, but it does have officer George Sullivan.
Officer Sullivan serves as the strategic enforcement and prevention officer for the department. With his personable and friendly demeanor, he goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve the community. Sullivan is what community policing is all about.
"My main thing is outreach," Sullivan said. "To get the connection from the police department to the citizens so that we have a flow of communication, because, one of the main things with policing is information flow, and if we don't have the backing of the citizens, that information flow stops."
He adds that while officers engage in their investigations to solve crimes, it's often a tip from a citizen who calls 911 that helps to solve many situations in Hanover Park.
Sullivan, 46, is a graduate of Illinois State University and is entering his 25th year with the department. He lives in the Northwest suburbs with his wife and three children, ages 9, 7 and 2.
One of Sullivan's main responsibilities organizing the annual COPS Day picnic, an event held in July which alternates between the north and the south sides of town. Police officers grill hot dogs and mingle with residents among an array of emergency vehicle and helicopter displays, sports team mascots, a "Dunk the Cop" tank, a police dog demonstration, raffles and information booths.
"It's a good way for the people to come and see the officers in a relaxed atmosphere so they can talk," Sullivan said. "And a lot of that builds relationships."
A few years ago, the Hanover Park Lions Club reached out to Sullivan and the Fraternal Order of Police lodge for help with an effort to assist families in need during the Christmas season. Some of the Lions Club's private donors were no longer able to provide the support that they had in the past, so Sullivan and the FOP responded with donated food and presents.
"We have bags of toys wrapped and ready so the kids can have something to open on Christmas," Sullivan said.
Sullivan became a police officer because he wanted to make a difference in the community, and he feels he has been successful with this goal.
"My way of policing is being open, friendly," Sullivan said, though he also says that, as with any officer, there are times when he has to be firm.
"You've got to make arrests, you've got to write tickets, you can't always be shaking hands and smiling," Sullivan said. "Sometimes you actually have to do enforcement, which is education, to hopefully get people to do the right thing."