Jonathan Kacer remembers when, as a police officer in El Mirage, he detained a few teenagers for shoplifting at Walmart.
“The only things they took were food items and a pair of cleats and it was because one of the kids wanted to play football, he couldn’t afford them and they didn’t have food in their house,” Kacer said.
Kacer and other officers paid Walmart for the groceries. “That incident kind of got me to look at other situations where I could help and think outside the box,” he said.
Now a member of the Buckeye Police Department, he is receiving quite an honor: The 100 Club of Arizona is presenting Kacer its Officer of the Year award.
“When I learned Jon Kacer was going to be Officer of the Year, I really wasn’t surprised,” said Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall. “Jon encapsulates every quality a police chief and a community member looks for in a police officer.”
This state-wide award is to recognize an individual who displays actions of heroism and commitment exceeding expectations. Kacer was to be honored Saturday, Nov. 23 at the annual Schechterle Gala at the Phoenix Art Museum. Proceeds from the gala will support the 100 Club’s programs and scholarships.
According to the 100 Club of Arizona’s website, “Our mission is to provide financial assistance to families of first responders who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty and provide resources to enhance their safety and welfare.”
Kacer, 36, said community service has always been a part of his life.
“My upbringing and my family, we were really involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association,” Kacer said. “We had two younger cousins who were diagnosed with muscular dystrophy … all of my cousins and brothers were brought up in a situation where we could help others.”
As an adult, Kacer said he had an interest in becoming a firefighter until he decided on pursuing law enforcement.
Donna Rossi, spokeswoman for the Buckeye Police Department, said, “Throughout the last year, seeing what officer Kacer has done on the streets as a police officer, as a human being, with victims it really epitomizes everything a police officer should be in this community.”
Kacer has gone beyond his duty to help people need.
Earlier this year, the Buckeye home of an elderly couple together for more than 60 years was burglarized. The couple lost many items including roughly $2,000 in cash. Kacer managed to learn the identity of one of the suspects and went on to make an arrest. Although some of the items were recovered, the cash was not.
Kacer kept in touch with the couple and eventually asked them what the cash was for. They answered the they were saving up for their funeral expenses as they did not want to burden their families.
“I hung up the phone and my wife was right there and I just started tearing up and I told her I wanted to do something,” Kacer said.
Kacer sprung to action and had a fundraiser party where many Buckeye business owners contributed and managed to raise $4,000 for the elderly couple.
He delivered the money to them in a safe.
Kacer has been in service for almost a decade, but it is his actions as an individual, as much as a police officer, it truly distinguishes him. He doesn’t believe in simply doing his job, but his badge gives him a responsibility to look out for his community in any way he can.
“Just always know there’s a way you can help somebody,” Kacer said. “You look for the opportunity and sometimes it just smacks you right in the face and other times you have to look kind of hard for it, but as long as you’re looking, you’re going to find something you can do to help somebody.”