Police Chief Rich Solarz has spent 29 years in law enforcement, most of them here in Marengo. In his 24 years with us, he served in several roles; most recently he has been the Chief of Police for 3 years. As he retires this month, we asked him to reflect back on his career, especially his time in Marengo.

“I wasn’t your typical kid who always wanted to be a policeman,” Solarz reports. “I enlisted in the Marines, and while on active duty was assigned to various embassies around the world as an MP. I discovered I liked law enforcement work and was pretty good at it, so when I returned to civilian life I enrolled in the Police Academy and have been a police officer ever since.”

Solarz has found his time in Marengo interesting, challenging and rewarding. “You can’t sum up this job in one statement,” he comments. “Every day is different. Sometimes every hour is different! I like the variety and diversity. Most of all I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many people. I’ve formed some lasting friendships here. I’ve come to admire and respect so many different people I’ve been privileged to serve with and to serve.”

Solarz agreed there is an element of danger to police work. “You always know there’s a possibility you’ll run into a bad situation. Your wife and kids know each time they say good-by to you, they might not see you again. It’s tough. There have been situations and experiences that will stay in my memory forever.”

But he’d do it again. He’s glad to be retiring, but he’s proud of his law enforcement career. Asked if he had any advice for young people who might be considering a career in law enforcement, he said, “Look into it! There are different routes you can take to get into police work. It’s very rewarding work if you can live with giving a lot of your life over to it. You’ll have to miss times with your family. I wasn’t always home for holiday celebrations and I missed a lot of my kids’ ball games and dance recitals. If you need a predictable, orderly life, law enforcement isn’t for you. But I’ll tell you, there are a lot of good days in police work. When I can help a drug addict get clean or find a place for a homeless person to stay, or help settle a domestic dispute, that’s a good day. On bad days, when I have to witness the results of violence or vehicular accidents, there is even good in that when I can save lives, or prevent more violence and protect this community. It’s a good job.”

Chief Rich Solarz, we salute you for a job well done and thank you for your service.

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