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John Balcerzak is a former police officer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who served as president of the Milwaukee Police Association from 2005 to 2009. Balcerzak first gained national attention in 1991, when he was fired for having handed over an injured child to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, despite bystanders' protests. He appealed his termination and was subsequently reinstated. Balcerzak retired from the Milwaukee Police Department in 2017.
Two women, Sandra Smith and Nicole Childress, discovered the victim, 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, after he had managed to escape from Dahmer's apartment, naked, bleeding from the rectum and heavily under the influence of drugs. They called 911; Balcerzak and his partner Joseph Gabrish were dispatched. Though the Laotian immigrant had been in the country for ten years and spoke English fluently, in his drugged and brain-injured state, Konerak was unable to communicate his situation to authorities. Dahmer found the boy with the police and convinced them that the boy was his 19-year-old lover. Smith and Childress recognized the boy from the neighborhood and were convinced that Sinthasomphone's life was in peril. They communicated this to the officers and tried to save the boy. However, Balcerzak and his partner returned Konerak to Dahmer's apartment. The officers noticed a strange smell in Dahmer's apartment, which was the decaying corpse of a previous victim in the bedroom, but made no attempt to investigate. Later that evening, Dahmer sexually abused, killed, and dismembered the boy.
Balcerzak's and Gabrish's positions and roles within the Milwaukee Police Department were terminated after their actions were widely publicized, including an audiotape of the officers making homophobic statements to their dispatcher and cracking jokes about having reunited the "lovers". The officers had never checked the boy's ID or verified his identity. The officers did not check Dahmer's identification; had they done so, they would have discovered that Dahmer was a sex offender previously convicted for molesting Sinthasomphone's older brother. The city of Milwaukee later paid the boy's family a sum of $850,000 to settle a lawsuit over the policemen's handling of the situation.
Service as union official
In May 2005, Balcerzak was elected president of the Milwaukee Police Association, defeating Sebastian Raclaw by a vote of 521 to 453. As president, he was criticized for failing to protect officers from mandatory overtime and not supporting African-American officer Alfonzo Glover, who was charged with homicide and later committed suicide. By June 2006, the union vice president had resigned because of disagreements with Balcerzak's "style of leadership". A petition to remove Balcerzak was filed and a recall election was held in August 2006. The results were 213 for a recall and 397 to retain him. At an October 9, 2009 trustee election, John Balcerzak was not re-elected as a trustee, thus having to vacate his position as president on December 31, 2009. Michael V. Crivello took his place as President of the Association.
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