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Joe R. Kozenczak
Joseph R. Kozenczak
Chief of Police (Retired)
City of Des Plaines Police Department

Class of 1970

How has Triton College made an impact on your life?
My experience at Triton College provided the foundation and impetus for my desire to pursue higher education in the area of law enforcement. The relationships formed with the faculty, many who were practitioners in the field, were valued professional acquaintances, many of which I still associate with and appreciate today. My degree from Triton was always viewed positively when it came to promotions within the police department and it continues to be an accomplishment which I take great pride in, particularly in these times when community colleges play such a vital role in the fabric of society.

Joseph R. Kozenczak, having served the city of Des Plaines, Illinois Police Department for twenty-seven years, was appointed Chief of Police in May 1985. His career was highlighted by his investigative role in the pursuit, arrest and conviction of John Wayne Gacy for the murders of thirty-three young men. This case, which attracted national and international attention by the world law enforcement community, as well as the media, resulted in Kozenczak's recognition as an outstanding detective, law enforcement administrator, lecturer, and criminologist.

Many of the techniques used during the Gacy Case, such as the surveillance and interviewing tactics, became national prototypes for criminal investigations. Kozenczak's involvement earned him a role on a committee of the United States Department of Justice Task Force responsible for developing guidelines for the pursuit of serial murderers.

While the Gacy Case was the catalyst for Kozenczak's lecturing at the FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia, he went on to be a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Laying the groundwork for his academic law enforcement background, Kozenczak received an Associate of Science degree in Police Science Administration from Triton College, River Grove, Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois. He later graduated from the Reid College of Detection of Deception, Chicago, and received a Master of Public Administration degree from Roosevelt University, Chicago. Kozenczak was selected as one of the Top Ten Law Enforcement Officers in the United States by the International Association of Chiefs of Police/Parade Magazine for his work on the Gacy Case.

His role in the case was featured in the North American television mini-series, To Catch A Killer. He co-authored with his wife Karen a book titled The Chicago Killer: The Hunt For Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy, in addition to several articles relating to law enforcement and criminal justice published in the United States and internationally.

Currently, Kozenczak works as a private detective in the Chicago metropolitan area with North Star Investigations specializing in missing persons' cases. Kozenczak is honored to serve as an adjunct instructor in law enforcement and related social justice topics and voluntarily serves at a local high school level on the District 207 Superintendent's Advisory Committee. He has previously served as an after school instructor in Elementary School District 62.