Off-duty hero Frank Pobjecky takes aim at elected office

Some leaders are born, while others — like a fine blade — are forged in fire

When people ask 31-year-old Frank Pobjecky — a deputy for the Winnebago County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department and a candidate for Sheriff — how someone so young can be Sheriff he answers “I have had experiences which have matured me beyond my years.”

You may recall that Frank Pobjecky was present when four thugs entered Marie’s Pizza in Rockford (Ill.) shouting promises of imminent death. Although he was off duty and unarmed, Frank ended that threat. 

If told of all of Frank’s life experiences, some would conclude Frank could be a candidate for PTSD. In Frank’s case, however the letters PTSD would have to stand for Post-Traumatic Sincere Determination.

Combat Veteran
Frank Pobjecky was so moved by the attack on our country on September 11th, he enlisted in the United Sates Army. 

Pobjecky explained, “I wanted to give back to the country that gave so much to us.”

At 20 years of age, Frank took part in the push to Bagdad in 2003, supporting the Third Infantry Division. As Frank — whose specialty was transport — recalled the historic advance he said, “When they shot at me it was my job to hunker down and keep on driving and that’s what I did.” 

Frank did a second one-year combat tour in Iraq — serving at the rank of Sergeant — in 2005-2006.

A Terrible Crime
After two combat tours, Frank joined the Illinois National Guard and upon returning home Frank was permanently impacted by a terrible crime.

On June 15, 2007, while pumping gas, Frank noticed yellow crime scene tape going up around the home of his cousin, Nick Halsted. Frank crossed the street to find out what was happening. 

Sadly, he discovered Nick had been asleep in his home when at least three members of the Satan’s Disciples Gang entered. These gangsters knew Nick worked at the Post Office and wrongly believed this working man might have enough cash lying about to allow for them to bond out another gang member. 

After entering the home these criminals discovered Nick asleep and one of the gang-bangers shot Nick below the right eye with a .357. 

The Disciples of Satan fled empty-handed, because they targeted this hard-working innocent young man the day before payday. Three were eventually arrested for the crime. Two were convicted and one was acquitted.

Frank was so moved by this senseless crime he decided he was going to make a difference in his community. In 2008 he became a Night Shift Patrol Officer for the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department.

A Tragedy Prevented
October 1, 2011, Frank was ordering a pizza for his family from his friend Vincenzo Tarara, the owner of Marie’s Pizza. 

Four assailants were intent on robbery. One of them shoved a .357 into Deputy Pobjecky’s face.

In a recent interview, Frank said that when the gun went into his face he thought, “The bullet is going to enter right below my eye and kill me just like cousin Nick.”  

Instinctively, Frank sprang into action and ripped the gun from a concealed holster he knew that Vincenzo carried and engaged the four armed robbers with Vincenzo’s Glock 27. 

Frank’s accurate fire struck and incapacitated three of the thugs and permanently stopped the fourth. 

No innocents were harmed thanks to Frank’s decisive actions. 

Following the incident, Pobjecky was presented with the Police Medal of Honor.

Grandmother Victimized
Shortly after the Marie Pizza’s shootout Frank discovered that his Grandmother was victimized when her home was invaded and she was robbed of her jewelry.

Even more motivated by these events, Frank continued to attempt to stem the unacceptable level of gang-related violence in his county by working the night shift on patrol and by joining the Sheriff’s Department’s SWAT team.

Making a Difference
Even though Frank was doing his part to impact on the safety of his community, he decided he could do more by taking a leadership role. When Frank discovered there would be no incumbent running for Sheriff in 2014, he decided to announce his candidacy for the post. 

Frank explained that gang bangers and drug dealers are cutting a swath through his community, leaving bodies and fear in their wake. 

He observed, “They are homegrown terrorists.”

When asked if he thought he could make a difference as a Sheriff, without hesitation Frank answered, “I know I can!”

Frank explained, “I want to be the sheriff that put the hard stop to the gang members and drug dealers in our community. People in our county do not feel safe here. Gangs are ruthless and have no regard for life and liberty.”

Frank feels strongly that fear of civil lawsuits have paralyzed too many police administrators. 

Frank said, “We need to change back to real policing. It’s time for politics to be put aside and place trust in the men and women who took an oath to protect the community. Let us do the job and get the job done right.”

Frank is a realist, however. He concluded, “I probably am risking my career by doing this, but I am not doing this for me. I am doing it for my community. They need a strong sheriff willing to do what needs to be done to protect them.”  

Pobjecky promised, “I will be a Sheriff who wears two hats. My officers will see and feel my presence as their leader.”

He continued, “I will be popular with the community, but unpopular with criminals, drug dealers, and gang members. They are the problem and we will be on their doorsteps attacking the problem.” 

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