John Balcerzak

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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.[1]

Dahmer incident[edit]

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,[2] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3]

Balcerzak's and Gabrish's positions and roles within the Milwaukee Police Department were terminated[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Both officers later appealed their termination. Judge Robert J. Parins decided the case and ruled in favor of the officers, allowing them to be reinstated.[7]

Service as union official[edit]

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.[5][8] 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.[9] Michael V. Crivello took his place as President of the Association.


  1. ^ "MPD officer who gave teen back to Dahmer retires". WTMJ-TV. June 16, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Celis, William (July 31, 1991). "Family Sought New Life Only to Find New Pain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Officer Defends Giving Boy Back to Dahmer". The New York Times. Associated Press. August 26, 1991. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  4. ^ "Mother of Dahmer Victim Sues Police". Jet. Vol. 81 no. 9. Johnson Publishing Company. December 16, 1991. p. 28. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". Archived from the original on August 31, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  6. ^ "Family Of Dahmer Victim Makes Tentative Settlement". Orlando Sentinel. March 22, 1995.
  7. ^ "Dahmer cops back on job". The Advocate. No. 660. Here Publishing. July 26, 1994. p. 9. ISSN 0001-8996. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  8. ^ "Cop union and cop image." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. May 13, 2005
  9. ^ "Changes Ahead for the MPA". Milwaukee Police Association. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012.

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