Chicago homicide detective shines light on tough job
Veteran Chicago Police homicide detective David Minelli speaks about his difficult job Nov. 4 at the Chicago Ethical Humanist Society in Skokie. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
ETHICAL HUMANIST SOCIETY
Where: 7574 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie
For more information, including a new video, visit ethicalhuman.org/.
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:28AM
Not many would define what Chicago Homicide Detective David Minelli does every day as a dream job.
Minelli is not like many; it takes a special person to work Area 1 on the South Side of Chicago, dealing with some of the grisliest murders in the city.
Minelli, who spoke to dozens of people Nov. 4 at the Ethical Humanist Society in Skokie, said this is where he belongs, even if there are risks and great sacrifices along the way.
“I wanted to be a police officer for as long as I could remember,” he said. “That’s all I ever wanted to do. When I was a child in school, we took social tests to help us ascertain future employment. Mine always resulted in law enforcement and/or the military.”
The detective comes from a military family – his father served in Vietnam – and he himself served eight years. After earning a degree in criminal law enforcement from Oakton Community College, Minelli joined the Chicago Police Department in 1997. He worked as a patrolman in Austin area and then was promoted to detective three years later, having spent the last nine years investigating violent crimes on the South Side.
Minelli’s talk resumed the Society’s “World-of-Working” programs, part of its diverse weekly speaker series.
“But today is a first (for) the Ethical Humanist Society,” said Matt Cole, a past president. “Today our topic is murder.”
Cole called the detective “the sweetest homicide cop in Chicago,” which became understandable in the course of his heartfelt talk with repeated references to his love for his wife and two boys.
He has high ideals about the mission of the department, repeating a favorite quote by George Orwell: “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”
Although he was careful about what he divulged, there was a frankness in describing his job: The difficulty in dealing with victims who have rap sheets longer than suspects, the challenges when bystanders choose not to get involved, the impact of a more litigious society on his job, how his wood working hobby helps him with stress and the potential to become jaded.
Minelli has been shot at a couple of times.
When apprehending a man pulled over for suspect crack cocaine, another man ran toward him from across the street with an pickaxe. He was prepared to shoot as the man came closer, he said, but at the last second, he tackled him and pulled the axe away.
He still isn’t sure why he didn’t shoot nor is he certain he was right not to.
“Was it a fair risk to my wife and kids?” he asked.
Among horrific crimes he’s had to deal with was an innocent blind girl killed by her parents who used a two-by-four to discipline her.
Minelli mostly wanted to send a message that police have their good and bad days like anyone else, but their mission remains keeping the citizenry safe.
“Know that the police are here to help,” he said. “We do stand ready. We are always on duty. We do take care of things that most citizens will not or cannot do.”~.