Town of Mukwonago Police Chief Thomas Czarnecki had a surprise waiting for him when he arrived at the Rotary Club meeting on Thursday, June 15.
Czarnecki was named the club's Law Enforcement Professional of the Year.
In his speech recognizing Czarnecki, Sgt. Eric Schmidt praised the chief for his leadership and commitment to excellence.
"Without his leadership, and the example he sets each and every day for those fortunate enough under his tutelage, I don't know that any of us under his command would be able to reach our full potential in this profession," Schmidt said.
Schmidt added that Czarnecki empowers officers to go out in the community and serve people to the best of their ability.
"He pushes us to set lofty goals and become the leaders that each of us is capable of becoming by reminding us that we are 'the tip of the spear,'" Schmidt said.
The award was special because the department went behind Czarnecki's back to nominate him. The chief's family surprised him by showing up at the meeting, as well.
Czarnecki joked he was mad at his staff. He had been approached by the Rotary to nominate an officer earlier in the year and was under the impression he was going to present the award to someone else.
"It was a complete surprise to me as they were reading the nomination, I guess I was the only one who didn't know," he said.
"It is a deep honor; it will probably go down as one of the highlights of my career," he said.
He was moved not necessarily because of the award of itself but how it was presented: The award was given at the request of his staff.
Czarnecki explained the department is like a family and described officers as his counterparts and a team.
In Czarnecki's opinion, awards presented are for the officers not for the chief. He added that the chief gets enough benefits from the job, and the officers are the ones doing the heavy lifting.
"They (officers) felt it was appropriate enough to turn it around on me, and honor me with that award. I will treasure and cherish this for the rest of my career," he said.
Czarnecki started his career with the department in 1997 and after the former chief retired, he was sworn in as acting chief in 2010.
Czarnecki said being in law enforcement is about the people and serving the community.
"I am truly truly humbled by the gesture," he said.