The chief of the Fairview Heights Police Department has been named 2017 Police Chief of the Year, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police announced Tuesday.
Chief Nicholas Gailius was awarded “for leadership in law enforcement, leadership in his own police department and service to the association,” a news release from the association said.
This is the association’s second annual award. Last year’s winner was Chief Timothy McCarthy of Orland Park, which is south of Chicago in Cook County.
Ed Wojcicki, director of the association, said Gailius is well-respected among other police chiefs in the area.
“It is incredible how highly regarded Chief Gailius is among his peers in the metro-east, and admiration for his leadership has spread throughout Southern Illinois and among his peers in Illinois,” Wojcicki said.
The association recognized the chief’s leadership after “major disruptions and threats to public safety” caused by unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in fall 2014. Gailius was called upon to lead the Unified Command Center of local chiefs, who in turn collaborated with federal and state agencies.
“It is clear that Gailius and his department and community provided very important leadership during a most trying time for law enforcement,” Wojcicki said.
The association cited Gailius’ following achievements in their decision to name him Chief of the Year:
▪ Creation of the city’s first “Volunteers in Police Service.”
▪ Co-founder of Fairview Heights Youth Initiative group mentoring project.
▪ Creation of a cadet program called Metro-East Cadets of Policing, which reaches out to youth at a young age, gets them interested in law enforcement, and eventually increases the pool of minority candidates interested in law enforcement.
▪ Creation of the Neighborhood Enforcement Officers program to improve police/ neighborhood communications.
▪ Initiating the T.R.A.C.E.R. unit (Targeting Residential and Area Concerns through Enforcement and Responsiveness) hot-spot policing team.
▪ Spearheading community outreach with diverse leaders and community representatives to strengthen the ties between minorities and police in Fairview Heights.
Gailius has served as chief in Fairview Heights since 2010 and is a past president of the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association. He started with the department as a Police Explorer at the age of 14 and has served the city in which he was born and raised ever since. Gailius has served as a dispatcher, patrolman, undercover agent, detective, sergeant, Emergency Services and Disaster Agency Coordinator, lieutenant, and Assistant Chief.
Gailius has an master’s degree from Lindenwood University and a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy and Southern Police Institute.
Gailius will receive the award April 21 during the association’s annual awards banquet in Oak Brook.
The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has nearly 1,300 members representing more than 450 police agencies in Illinois.