DAVENPORT, Iowa — After more than three decades of service to the people of Davenport, Police Chief Paul Sikorski will retire on August 29.
News 8 sat down with the chief to learn about his time on the force and his advice to future generations of law enforcement professionals.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What's going through your mind right now as you look toward retirement?
Right now is, you know, just trying to relish and enjoy these last few months at a place that I've given so much, but I think also, you know, I got a lot from my time here as well. So I think just relishing the time that I have left connecting with the people here over the next few months and just hoping that I'm able to convey how proud I am of them and what they do for this community in the realm of public safety, the incredible commitment that that takes to do that. Not only by them but their families as well.
... For me, it's an evolution. I had an opportunity yesterday to interview a sergeant for a lieutenant's promotion. So that's a big step within the organization and the leadership of the organization and it just, you know, it was these things keep happening that just prove that this is the right time. An incredible guy who's going to do an awesome job in the command staff here, and we're in such a good place as an organization as far as leadership goes. And as far as the direction that we're going as an organization to that it's just, you know, it's the right time for me and especially my family to go on to that next chapter, you know, in life and, and figure out what that is and what it looks like. And it's really, really difficult in part, but, you know, I also know that it's the right thing to do and it's the right time. And I'm excited for that too.
Do you plan to stay around the Quad Cities?
This is our home. I do plan on ... doing something else. I'm still young and healthy and you know, fortunately, or unfortunately very energetic. And you know, I have a servant's heart, and I want to continue to serve my community. We're certainly going to do our fair share of traveling and finding mountains to climb up and trails to hike and ... oceans to swim and those kinds of things, but I'll continue to serve in some capacity doing something here I hope.
What are you looking forward to being able to do during retirement?
I'm not getting phone calls at three o'clock in the morning. Those kinds of things, especially for my wife are going to be really good. You know, I'll tell you on Aug. 30. So the day after, I'm probably going to wake up and get an ass-kickin' workout in. I might even get a second one in later on that day. I think being able to and having the ability to go see my kids when I want to or even you know taking the trip with the boys to you know for four or five days to Colorado to you know to climb mountains or to go and you know, do the 10 Bataan Death March in, in New Mexico and do a marathon there with a pack on you know, just having the ability to break away and do some of those things is going to be kind of cool for, for me in particular ... I'm just I'm excited to see what God's got in store for me next.
What legacy are you hoping you leave behind at Davenport Police?
My parents always taught me that it's not about me and to be and how important a team is and being part an integral part of that team. How important that is. I had the opportunity to talk at my high school last week about and reflect back on high school and one of the things that I reflected on was while I was an athlete and several different sports, I was never a star athlete. I was successful. And I remember what my mom used to say it was I was always the dirtiest kid out there meaning not in how I played in with other kids, or young men and young men, but you know, I played with integrity, but I also played hard and that my uniform was always dirty sometimes even before the game started.
All those lessons that I learned from so many of my coaches and teachers and my parents and my friends ... You know, I brought that here. That work ethic. You know, I got an incredible opportunity on Aug. 29, 1988, to start to work here as a police officer. A passion that I had, prior to being hired. That's the only thing I've ever wanted to do that or the military. And, you know, the city of Davenport took a chance on me (in) 1988, and I never wanted anybody to think that I wasn't paying that back and I wasn't getting enough effort.
So, you know, as far as a legacy here, I think one of the things is I want the men and women here to know how much I love and respect them. Their dedication and commitment to public safety and that of throughout my career. I've always been part of them. As much as difficult it is when you move up in the organization, your responsibilities increase, and your ability to be out in the community and in the neighborhoods and it's much more difficult. My heart is always there. My heart is always with the guys and gals who are out running hot calls that you know, a night shift and an afternoon shift and on day shift and you know doing that really difficult work of surveillance and ... being that thin blue line in between that really dangerous part of the community and the community that needs us to protect them. So I have so much respect for them for doing that.
I want to make sure that I've always worked in that capacity and try to be one not (to forget) my roots and where I came from. There are a lot of different innovative things that we as a team have brought here. Certainly, under my leadership and direction, you know, we're beginning this phase of group violence intervention. The city government is certainly a part of that, but our community is the biggest part of that, and the potential great effects that that that will have in our community, and starting that now is really important to me. You know, bringing crime analytics here and bringing the future of policing here is really, really important. You know, just having the ability to understand how important it is to evolve as a police department. And that bringing that understanding to the men and women that work here and that are in the Quad Cities, law enforcement and in our state of Iowa ... I've had the opportunity to work with so many different police departments, different cities, throughout the state and really throughout the nation. And it's just it's been a blessing for me.
What are some of your proudest moments working and leading the Davenport Police Department?
I think recently, it has been leading through challenging times. How it's been extremely difficult, internally and externally. But how incredibly important it is. To have a strong, innovative team working, working through those challenges.
I mean, yeah, you talk about having storms here, you know, that we've never even heard of derecho and those kinds of things through the challenging times of social disorder, you know, really, really difficult. You know, one of our police officers was shot that late night when all of us were in when we make an all call during a time like that. And 90-some percent of the police department responds out of their warm beds ... Our community is very fortunate to have people who have committed and dedicated their lives to do that. You know, they're coming in to help in a situation. That was one of the most violent that I've experienced in 34 years. And we were we as a community, we as a law enforcement community and a community where we were able to, you know, quell that within a very, very short period of time. And we did that through the, you know, our officers that are working the street, through our community, through our elected officials, talking with our community through us listening to the community and their concerns with policing as a whole, you know, throughout the nation and you know, you know, and then there's been some other challenging times, I mean, you you think about when you know, the many lives that we've lost here, through violent crime, each one of those when I talk to families, each one of those leaves a scar in your heart. It really does. I mean, you talk about the, you know, the loss of Breasia (Terrell), and just the incredible one, the incredible amount of effort that was put in by this organization, the men and women here, but also, you know, with other jurisdictions here, other law enforcement just dropped what they were doing to help. Our federal partners did the same thing, our state partners, so the willingness of law enforcement to come together to deal with these challenges. That's one of the things that I'll certainly miss.
There's a team here within the Quad Cities that we worked so well together, we use each other's resources and ideas. You know, and super proud of that and I'm gonna miss that miss working with that awesome group of law enforcement professionals here.
What would your advice be to someone considering a career in law enforcement?
One of the things that's difficult right now is recruiting in our profession. What I would tell somebody coming into this profession or thinking about coming into this profession is this is a passion. It's not a job. We get paid very, very well. And the benefits are exceptional here in Davenport. But it's a passion. It's a passion to serve. If somebody has a passion to serve God, I would steer them in this direction. I have been blessed to do this for 34 years.
I've been grounded by my family by my wife who has been with me the whole time since high school, and my kids as well, and in a strong group of friends who, some of them have been in law enforcement, but the majority aren't and being grounded by them and being humbled by them as well. This job, this profession is incredibly rewarding. It is difficult, but I would never have done anything else. I wouldn't change anything. And I'm just been very blessed to have been a part of this for 34 years.