Everyday Heroes: Officer Mike Wilcox of Dixon
Mike Wilcox, 59, of Dixon, was a city of Dixon firefighter and paramedic for 30 years before retiring in June 2015. He’s back working for the city – this time with the police department – as a part-time community service officer.
When the police chief approached him about the job, Wilcox told him he wasn’t interested if it was just about “slapping tickets on vehicles.” A self-proclaimed team builder, Wilcox volunteers his talents as a bagpiper.
Tell us about your work:
I am a community service officer for the Dixon Police Department. I do a lot of downtown parking enforcement, but I see myself as a downtown ambassador. I keep things moving, welcome people, give directions and promote my town. I’ve done this for a little more than 3 years, after retiring from the fire department.
I am a self-taught bagpipe player. While with the fire department, I was on the Funeral Planning Committee for district fire chiefs. Bagpipes are a big part of public service funerals, so I decided to learn to play. I also do weddings and other special events, but a lot of it is on a volunteer basis.
What drew you to it? What keeps you going?
The day-to-day interactions, especially with kids, are what I love. I want to teach kids to not be afraid of the uniform. Many of them are just exposed to the negative aspects of law enforcement.
How has your work made the community better?
As a firefighter, and paramedic, I knew I touched lives every day. It was exciting and humbling. Now I just give people a friendly smile and try to help any way I can.
What do you want others to know that they may not?
I want to send a message to people that police are good people. We’re out doing things like Shop with A Cop because we really care about the community.
What have you learned about yourself or others by doing it? Has it changed you?
I’ve learned that it’s easier to work together as a team and how you can do great things when everyone is pulling in the same direction. My most satisfying moment was when I was part of a group of firefighters that presented the colors at Wrigley Field. It was shortly after 9/11, and I thought I could retire because that’s as good as it gets.
The toughest things was when two young men died in a house fire in Ashton. As awful as it was, the community really rallied together. Firefighters from the Chicago Fire Commission and others from out of state came to make sure we were OK. Firefighters call each other brothers, and they really mean it.
Who are some people who you think deserve some credit?
My family deserves a lot of credit. My wife and kids had to make sacrifices when I was with the fire department. Your work is never done, and they had to put up with me getting called into work in the middle of Thanksgiving dinners.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to fly so I could get places faster to help people.
Who are your role models?
All of the firefighters I worked with when I was starting out were role models. Most of them went out of their way to help the new firefighters.
What is your favorite quote?
The Japanese proverb “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”