Gurnee police Cmdr. Jay Patrick -- best known as the department's spokesman over his lengthy career -- is headed into retirement.
Patrick's finale on Friday will cap a Gurnee police career that began in June 1986. His departure will come slightly more than a month after Deputy Chief James Caldwell's retirement.
"It was a good time," Patrick said of his Gurnee career. "A great place to be. Right time and right place."
Police Chief Kevin Woodside said he'll miss Patrick's friendship, law-enforcement experience and calm voice during a crisis. He said Patrick's career accomplishments will continue to be noticed in the Gurnee police firearms proficiency program.
"Besides being an expert marksman, he was one of our first firearms instructors and supervisors of our training program," Woodside told the Daily Herald. "He pioneered our program, which now sets the standard that ensures our police officers receive the best possible training."
Patrick was a police officer in southwestern Michigan when his wife accepted a position at Grayslake-based College of Lake County in January 1984. He joined her after getting a job at the Lake County sheriff's office.
After two years as a deputy sheriff, Patrick landed in Gurnee. In addition to the firearms instruction, his duties over 28 years in the village covered patrol officer, investigator, media spokesman and project manager for the police headquarters building that opened in late 2003.
The public information officer part of Patrick's job brought him into the spotlight. He handled that role from 1997 until last September, when his intent to retire became known and a replacement was sought within the department.
Similar to other law-enforcement agencies, Patrick's job as Gurnee police spokesman was to provide timely, accurate information to the media regarding major crimes or other instances, such as when the village was hit by flooding. He said he trained on how to deal with the media before becoming the spokesman.
Patrick's profile was elevated when former Bears defensive tackle Terrence "Tank" Johnson's Gurnee house was raided in December 2006.
He described how authorities entered Johnson's home and seized six weapons, some of them loaded, and ammunition. Police also found about 2.5 ounces of marijuana and prescription painkillers belonging to Johnson, who spent 60 days in Cook County jail for a probation violation as a result of the Gurnee accusations.
"That was a large media event," Patrick said Monday. "We were getting inquires worldwide on that. We're still getting inquiries on it today."
Patrick, 58, will return to Michigan, with plans to hone his golf game and possibly dabble in photography. He was the unofficial police photographer since the 1990s.
Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said Patrick's skill at representing the village to the public, often under difficult circumstances, will be missed.
"He's done a wonderful job of being the face of the Gurnee PD," Kovarik said.