Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield and Mayor Keith Pekau pose after she was honored by the Village of Orland Park Monday night. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield and Mayor Keith Pekau pose after she was honored by the Village of Orland Park Monday night. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Hockey star and police chief honored by Orland Park

By Jeff Vorva

It was a night of celebration at Monday’s Village of Orland Park meeting with Kendall Coyne Schofield and outgoing police chief Joseph Mitchell serving as the stars of the show.

Both received proclamations and standing ovations.

Schofield, a Sandburg graduate, was honored for bringing home an Olympic silver medal in women’s hockey. She also won a silver in 2014 and a gold in 2018. Mitchell, who is leaving near the end of the month to take the chief’s job in Wilmington, was hailed for his 27 years of service in Orland Park including the past two years as the chief.

“Tonight, we got to see and hear the best about America,” said Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, who donned a USA hockey jersey for the occasion. “Kendall Coyne Schofield is a multiple gold winner [including six in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championships]. She represented the United States with class for over a decade.

“Chief Joe Mitchell spent over a quarter of a century of service to the Village of Orland Park. He is the type of leader that is found in America year after year and decade after decade.”

The mayor and board members lauded Schofield for her off-the-ice contributions. Kendall and her husband, NFL lineman Michael Schofield, started the Schofield Family Foundation in 2018 and raised money for military, first responders, families, youth sports plus education and research.

“Anything I do off the ice is more important than anything that’s done on the ice,” Coyne Schofield said during the meeting. “The support I’ve received even before the Olympics from everybody here has been unbelievable.

“I’ve heard from a lot of you when I was in Beijing [for the 2022 Olympics]. The more you support the athletes and others who come out of Orland Park only inspires the next generation to say, ‘I can do it, too.’ We’re so proud to be a part of this community and family.”

MITCHELL FINAL BOARD MEETING scaled

Outgoing police chief Joseph Mitchell shakes hands and talks to members of the Orland Park board Monday night. Mitchell leaves the force after 27 years to become the chief in Wilmington.

Mitchell’s parting words to the board included several statistics to refute an ad from 6th District Congressional candidate Scott Kasper that said, “Crime is out of control in Orland Park.”

The chief pointed out that under his watch, the village was ranked eighth safest in the country by the MoneyGeek personal finance technology company out of 952 communities between 30,000 and 100,000 residents.

“I want to set the record straight,” Mitchell said. “Ladies and gentlemen, do not feed into this nonsense devised by a person seeking an elected office. Our record speaks for itself.”

The board members agreed.

“Criminals realize that if they come to Orland Park, they are going to get caught,” Trustee Michael Milani said. “[The police] will hunt them down and find them.”

Trustee Cynthia Nelson Katsenes marveled at Mitchell’s compassion.

“You care about people and your officers,” she said to Mitchell during the meeting. “You care about victims and about protecting the innocent. That has left a big mark on me and thank you for that.

“You are truly a cop’s cop.”

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