Officer Chavez retires from Geneseo Police Department

Claudia Loucks
Officer Mike Chavez, left; who is retiring after 20 years of service with the Geneseo Police Force, is shown with Geneseo Police Chief Casey Disterhoft.

Geneseo Police Officer Mike Chavez has worn “many hats” during his 20 years with the Geneseo Police Department, and even though he is retiring from law enforcement, he has no plans to “really retire.”

“After serving my community with honor, I have decided to take my life in a different direction,” Chavez said. “I have a couple different plans after retirement, but the one I’m most excited about is starting my own car detailing shop. It is something that I have been doing on the side and have even attended a professional class to learn more about car detailing.”

“It’s kind of like the saying goes that ‘if you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life’,” he added.

During his 20 years with the Geneseo Police Department, Chavez has been a patrol officer, detective, Swat Sniper and Swat Team member, Range Master and Tazer Instructor, and most currently has been spending time out in the community as the Community Relations Officer.

He has taught in Fraud and Scam protection, Church Security, Personal Awareness, Active Shooter, Internet Safety and Shopping and more…”I can ‘t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say ‘thank you’ for teaching a class and that someone tried to scam them, and they knew what to do,” he said. “It’s very cool to know that I’ve been able to help so many people stay safe.”

In addition to those duties, Officer Chavez was the police liaison to the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce for the annual Music Fest, Christmas Walk, Trains Planes and Automobiles, Fireworks and other events in the community.

“And, along with those duties, I’ve had the joy of leading numerous 5K runs and parades over the years. (I like to pretend that I have own numerous 5K’s too),” he said. “But the event that I really enjoyed was ‘National Night Out’. It was such a joy to put on an event that showed citizens what services the police department has to offer, as well as to introduce the officers to the public. Being able to take over both City Parks and put on a safe event for everyone to enjoy was a lot of fun.”

When asked what led Officer Chavez to a career in law enforcement, he replied, “When I was a kid, I lived around the corner from Walt Henry. He was a huge influence on my life and part of the encouragement to get into law enforcement.”

(The late Walt Henry was an officer with the Geneseo Police Department and also served as Geneseo Police Chief)

Walt Henry also was Chavez’s youth football coach…”I also remember him as Officer Friendly,” Chavez said. ‘When I was younger I also did not like to see people being bullied and I would stick up for the kids who were being bullied. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for seeking justice for those who were victimized.”

When Chavez was in his teens, he made the decision to join the United States Army “to get some life experiences,” he said. “When I came back home (to Geneseo) and found a job, I started attending Black Hawk College. While going to school, Chief Lou Bervid (who was then Geneseo Police Chief) told me about an opening at the Police Department, and after a few encouraging words from him I then applied for a job at the Geneseo Police Department.”

He started working with the Geneseo Police Department prior to finishing his degree, but did return to finish school while he worked full time for the Geneseo Police Department.

“As far as law enforcement, the Geneseo Police Department was my first choice in Law Enforcement, and I have spent the last 20 years serving this great community,” he said.

Before becoming a police officer, Chavez served seven years in the U.S. Army and completed his Army career in California as a Desert Warfare Instructor at the rank of Sgt. 1st Class. He also did a tour overseas for four years of his career when he was deployed to the First Gulf War.

His memories are many from his 20 years with the Geneseo Police Department and when asked to share some of the times that stand out, Chavez said, “Some of the saddest memories are when you are faced with someone passing away after you have tried to save their life. There is nothing worse than looking into the eyes of someone who just watched their loved one pass away in your arms.”

Chavez said aside from arresting “some really dangerous people and a few heartless victimizers, some of my happier memories are from helping those in need. Just taking the time to listen to someone’s problems and trying to offer them some advice is really satisfying.”

It would be difficult for Chavez to list just a few of his happier memories as he has helped many people over the years….”When I am asked that question, too many different faces pop into my mind to list just one happy memory,” he said. “I will say there is nothing more satisfying than hearing ‘thanks for your help’ or ‘thank you for your service’. It took me many years to figure out what to say in return, but I finally figured out what to say to everyone who has thanked me over the years – ‘You’re worth it, thank you for the opportunity’.”

Another questions asked in interviewing Officer Chavez was what would he tell someone who is considering a career in law enforcement?

He said he would say, “Make sure it is something you want to do. It is a great profession with a lot of changes that will be happening in the future. I can say that some of the changes will be good and some not so good. With all the negativity that is in the news, it seems like Law Enforcement would be a bad career to choose, but the good that you will experience will far outweigh the bad.”

Officer Chavez attended Northside School and Millikin School; Geneseo Middle School and graduated from J.D. Darnall High School, now Geneseo High School, and from Black Hawk College. He and his wife, Mercy, have five children and two grandchildren.

When asked to comment about his years of working with Officer Chavez, Geneseo Police Chief Casey Disterhoft said, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve with Mike. I have worked with Mike since he started his career in 2001. I will miss his passion for serving and helping others.”

“In the role of Community Relations Officer, Mike always made sure citizens were well-informed on issues that had the potential of making them victims,” he said. “Mike will be missed by many and the entire City of Geneseo workforce. Mike has that servant’s heart and his dedication to the people he served was known by all that had contact with him.”