Deputy Chief Kieran “Joe” Mackey Retirement
By SEAN McNEALY
Journal & Topics Reporter
After 30 years of service to the village, Rosemont Public Safety Deputy Chief Kieran “Joe” Mackey is retiring this month.
Mackey climbed the ranks of the Rosemont Public Safety Department beginning in 1989 and has since fulfilled five roles. He started as a public safety officer in 1989 and became a sergeant in 1999. He moved on to become a lieutenant in 2008 and a commander in 2008. He assumed his current and final role as a deputy chief in 2016.
“There’s beauty in that I’m going to leave this job still loving it,” Mackey said. “If you can walk out loving what you’re doing then you’re a winner.”
Mackey was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, to Irish immigrants. The family moved to Chicago a couple of years after Mackey was born and to Schiller Park when Mackey was in second grade.
Mackey said his parents being immigrants helped shaped his priorities and taught him the drive to be successful and self-sufficient.
Mackey said he knew he wanted to pursue a career in public safety and protection when he was growing up. He graduated East Leyden High School and signed up for EMT training through Triton College. He completed training in 1977. He worked part-time as an EMT in Schiller Park and full-time at Superior Ambulance in Elmhurst. He completed paramedic school from Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights in 1978.
In the 1980s, Mackey served as assistant director of EMS at the Schiller Park Fire Department and as an auxiliary officer for Rosemont.
After getting married to his wife Patricia in August 1986, Mackey moved to Rosemont. He passed the tests to work for the village’s public safety department and was trained at the Chicago Police Academy.
Mackey said during his original interview with the board of public safety commissioners, police Chief Jack Hasselberger asked Mackey about his career goals. Mackey looked over at fire Chief Gary Hopkins and said, “I want his job.”
“We chuckled at the time, but it worked out,” Mackey said.
Mackey devoted countless hours to the department and to those within it. He said the genuine care and team pride everyone demonstrates at the department makes it strong.
“I’m going to miss the guys and the camaraderie,” Mackey said. “I look at the sergeants and above, and so many worked with me. To see them move up the ladder, there’s pride in that to see them succeed -- there’s satisfaction in that.”
Mackey also served as a negotiator for hostage-like situations for Chicagoland’s NIPAS Emergency Services Team for three years while fulfilling his role as commander in Rosemont.
Mackey said the most rewarding part of his job with the village was the appreciation and gratitude he received from people.
“If someone walks up to you in the worst situations and thanks you, then you did it right,” Mackey said. “I’ve pulled people over and they thank me, and I’ve dealt with families in crisis. The appreciation makes everything worthwhile.”
In the department, Mackey was lucky enough to work with two of his six children. One of his daughters, Brigid Busking, said it was cool to come and vent to her favorite person whenever they were in the building together.
“Whoever gets his office is going to have to listen to me,” Busking joked.
Busking said when she was growing up, her dad described his team at the department as his own children.
“He would tell us that his guys were like his second set of kids,” Busking explained. “He said he had to protect them. It speaks to his love of them, the department and his career.”
It isn’t clear who will be taking over Mackey’s vacant position, but he believes his responsibilities will be divided among members of the department.
Upon retirement, Mackey and his wife are set to vacation in Hawaii. When they return, Mackey hopes to cheer on his daughter at all of her softball games and spend quality time with his wife. They have plans to visit their out-of-state children in Georgia and Missouri more often.
“This is what I wanted to do, and not many people get the opportunity to say they go to do what they wanted to do,” Mackey said. “I’m walking out smiling and still loving it. What more could you ask for?”