Tinley Park Police Chief Michael J. O'Connell died 8 a.m. Wednesday morning at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Mayor Ed Zabrocki said.
The cause of death was complications due to heart surgery, Village Manager Scott Niehaus said. O'Connell was 60.
"We're not sure of all the details yet," Zabrocki said.
O'Connell has been on health leave for about a month, with Cmdr. Pat McCain filling in as acting chief. Formerly the police chief of Riverdale, O'Connell joined the Tinley department in 1995 as chief, Niehaus said. O'Connell started his nearly 40-year law enforcement career as a Riverdale patrol officer in 1972.
MEMORIES OF O'CONNELL
"As you know, he was a big man and it was all heart," said Orland Park police Chief Timothy McCarthy, who knew O'Connell for 20 years. "The guy just went out of his way to help out everyone he could."
McCarthy and O'Connell were on the South Suburban Association Chiefs of Police, where O'Connell would often take the lead on charity projects to give back to Southland communities, McCarthy said.
"Mike was a true leader, not just as a chief but as a law enforcement official," McCarthy said. "It's going to be a tough few days for a lot of people to get through this, including myself."
"This is a devastating loss to his family, his many friends, the law enforcement profession and our entire community," Zabrocki said in a village press release. "Chief O'Connell led our police department with an enormous amount of knowledge and compassion. We will miss him immensely, as a chief and as a friend."
A graduate of the FBI National Academy and Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, Chief O’Connell also held a master’s degree in criminal justice from Lewis University. He taught criminal justice for several years at South Suburban College.
"It wasn’t just Chief O'Connell's experience and knowledge that made him a great police chief," Trustee Brian Maher, chairman of the village board's Public Safety Committee, said in the village release. "He was always anxious to embrace new ideas and technology that would benefit our community, always working toward enhancing the quality of life for our residents. More importantly, he was an outstanding person who touched the lives of many."
A visitation is scheduled from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at , 16600 S. Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park. A funeral Mass will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, May 16, at , 17500 84th Ave., Tinley Park.
The family has requested privacy during their time of grieving. In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105. To donate by telephone, call 1-800-805-5856.
Chief O’Connell is survived by his wife, Barb, his daughter, Colleen; son, Michael, and daughter-in-law, Liz; daughter, Michelle (Anichini), and son-in-law, Paul; and four grandchildren.
This story will be updated as more information is made available.
Updated at 10:38 with Niehaus comments and award information.
Updated at 12 p.m. with McCarthy comments.
Updated at 12:14 p.m. with village comments and funeral information.