CAPS Sergeant Adam Henkels retires amid praises and accolades in CPD's 14th District

Date: 
12/12/2020
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Adam Henkels holds his farewell cake with his flip flop trophy and framed jacket in the background

Adam W. Henkels, Chicagoan, retired from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) last Thursday, after more than 29 years of service, and was honored by current and former 14th District "family members" with verbal praises, stories, an album, a cake, a trophy and a blue line (cars in a line with lights flashing). 

In the community, Henkels has been described as helpful, pleasant, friendly, quiet to a degree… in general, affable but somewhat vanilla. But from those who know him and have worked with him, it is a different story. 

Henkels service included park patrols, school officer and foot patrol supervisor before returning to the 14th District in 2015 as a sergeant on the third watch. Then in the Spring of 2017, CAPS Sergeant Filippe Reyes became a lieutenant and was transferred out of the District. 

"I really needed to find a replacement as quickly as possible and Adam volunteered," explains then 14th District Commander Fabian Saldana. 

"He took the ball and ran with it. He helped me out tremendously. He is a 100% awesome individual who did a lot of damage control. I can't speak highly enough of him…he's a good guy." 

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Former 14th District Commander Melvin Roman and Henkels

Explaining how vital the CAPS Sergeant role is, former 14th District Commander Melvin Roman said Thursday, "If you haven't worked in CAPS and you think it is easy, then you haven't worked in CAPS…." 

CAPS historically assists the District Commander with many ongoing functions and duties and especially when the workload is heavy in other aspects of a district's work. "You have officers that become part of that group for various reasons and others because it's a calling.  Adam went in because it was a calling," continued Roman. 

"He not only did everything for CAPS, he filled in on watches. I appreciated how he would go to the Mayor's house and make sure that all the posts were covered. He stayed on the front line with us." 

Amid laughter, Roman explained, "He served as my conscious …he wouldn't let me send out emails without thinking about it." Henkels response, "He failed me several times," drew more laughter. 

Former Captain then Commander of 14, Marc Buslik says, "Adam understood what needed to be accomplished. He 'played well with others' and got it done." 

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Known for wearing flip flops in the station, Henkels stands in front of a police car with his number on it as the new 14th District CAPS Sergeant Mike Edens (background left) heads to drive his predecessor in the Blue Line

As described by several who worked with him, he brings positive energy and calmness as he lifts others spirits. 

In 2017, Henkels talked about working in CAPS, "Meeting many people, as we do in CAPS, and forming partnerships is so important these days. Without them, nothing gets solved whether in community, faith based groups or in outreach programs. No one entity is going to solve the problem … like the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child." 

"As an officer, you have to do your job, but there are ways you should do it and ways you shouldn't. You see the later in the news and then there are the ways you should do it. Even though you have to arrest somebody you do it nicely, correctly."  

Illustrating his points, Henkels shared this story. "I was off duty in a Starbucks one day. This kid, well now he is 22 or 23, says, 'Officer Adam how have you been? I want you to meet my wife and two kids. 'Honey,' he says to his wife, 'this officer arrested me five times but he is the nicest officer ever.'" 

"He has the heart of a lion," says Lieutenant Joseph "Joe" Giambrone. The two have known each other since their days in the military. Henkels was a Technical Sergeant, 440th Civil Engineering Squadron, fire protection, and Giambrone was a Staff Sergeant with the 440th Security Forces Squadron. They  subsequently became partners in CPD's 17th District. 

"Adam puts people at ease, he is kind and he has the heart of a lion," says Giambrone and then explains why he describes him as having the 'heart of a lion.' 

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Henkels with Lieutenant Joe Giambrone

"It was January and in the days when we did pursuits. A car-jacking occurred where the offender stuck a sawed-off shotgun in the face of the car owner. The call came over the radio and it turned out we were close by. Heading toward the incident we spotted the car at a red light. We checked the details of the car and confirmed it was the right vehicle. 

"I pulled on the right-rear side of the car, we both got out and pulled our guns. The guy saw us, put his car in reverse, almost hitting me and our car door. He went 2 1/2 blocks in reverse, doing about thirty-five mph through traffic." 

Given an ok to pursue, they and a second car chased the car through alleys and side streets for about ten minutes. The offender abandoned the car, fleeing on foot. "He was a thirty-three year old prison muscular man weighing approximately 220 pounds with a 30-page rap sheet," says Giambrone. 

"Adam who ran five miles a day, ran like a gazelle at one point saying to the offender 'You want to run? I'll keep running with you.' 

"Then he leapt at him and the offender, with one hand was helicoptering Adam. I ran a tackle at him and he fell. Adam and I got him cuffed." 

For the two long-time friends and partners, Henkels retirement will not end their long-time ties or current friendship just as Henkels presence and devotion to Chicago and the people in it will probably not end.

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Henkels is in the lead car of the blue line, circling the station, with the new 14th District CAPS Sergeant, Mike Edens

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