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It was an emotional night in Park Forest during Monday night's board meeting when Village Manager Tom Mick presented Officer Craig Taylor with his retirement resolution.
Taylor has been with the Park Forest Police Department for 20 years, receiving 15 Outstanding Service Awards and a Meritorious Service Award. As he took to the podium, he became emotional, reflecting on his time as an officer for the Village.
"Most of you know that I've had a very interesting police career," Taylor said. "Getting through these last eight or nine years has been a real struggle for me. But what helped get me through that struggle was you guys."
Taylor continued as his voice cracked, "You guys had my back and supported me through everything I've gone through."
As Taylor grew emotional, his wife, Freddi Taylor, jogged to the podium and consoled him. After regaining his thoughts, Taylor continued praising his wife and said spouses of first responders are sometimes overlooked but should be recognized.
"I do have one acknowledgment, and that's acknowledging this lady next to me," Taylor said while pointing at his wife. "I truly believe that police wives are unappreciated. They don't get the acknowledgment that they deserve. But today, she's definitely going to get my acknowledgment."
Taylor added, "She endured so much that people don't realize. I never acknowledged, myself, the trauma Freddi dealt with internally. But through all that trauma, this woman stood by my side every minute of the day, through my tears and crying, through my stress, and for that - I thank you. For that I love you. With that being said, today is your retirement too."
Taylor's family and friends were in attendance, as well as a host of Park Forest police and firefighters, all applauded his speech.
Taylor graduated from Kenwood Academy High School and attended Western Illinois University, where he studied criminal justice. He served in the United States Army from 1990-1998 and was honorably discharged. Taylor joined the Park Forest Police Department in January 2004 and was involved as a police liaison officer at both Rich East High School and Michelle Obama School of Technology and Arts.
Taylor also served as a Field Training Officer, training new officers in basic police procedures and tactics, and was assigned to the S.T.A.N.D. U.P. Team in 2008 focusing on drug and gun arrests.
Taylor will officially return in January 2024.