Canerday helped shape police force

Sergeant Sam Canerday nears retirement.

Sergeant Sam Canerday is set to retire.

With more than 40 years in law enforcement and nearly 12 years at the Belt, he will conclude his career May 1.

“I’ve always enjoyed the job,” Canerday said. “And I always wanted to be a police officer as a kid growing up in Chicago. I looked up to police.”

Whether saving an abused dog tied to the tracks or helping two lost children find their way home, he has helped people throughout his entire career.

Canerday worked nearly three decades for nearby Berwyn’s police department. Detective, sergeant, and lieutenant were just a few of the titles he held for that agency. In the course of his career with Berwyn, Canerday was in charge of a patrol division and worked in every aspect of police operations, including tactical. It’s also where his relationship with Director of Police and Risk Management Mike Romano, who also served on Berwyn’s force, began.

The two have known each other for 28 years. When Romano began his tenure at the Belt in January 2006 and looked to enhance police operations, he decided to call the recently retired Canerday to help him build a new police force made up of experienced professionals.

Canerday drafted the Belt’s police policy that outlines standard operating procedure. He was also integral in helping the force comply with the 2011 Railroad Police Act by penning an internal investigation policy. Canerday’s work has been influential and inspired similar documents adopted by the forces of area short line railroads.

In addition to losing a Sergeant who has had a great influence on the culture of the force, Romano will miss seeing his friend every day.

“What can I say,” he said. “He’s my buddy.” 

Canerday admires Romano’s leadership and willingness to allow a collaborative environment where officers have the autonomy necessary to fully contribute. He has a great respect for the force at large.

“I’m proud of this police force,” he said. “All our officers bring a wealth of experience and professionalism to the job.”

And it isn’t just his fellow officers he respects.

“I will truly miss working with the people here,” he said. “They are truly knowledgeable and dedicated.”

Canerday also is connected to the community surrounding the railroad. People on and off the Belt’s property wave to him during his day and know his name.

“Being a railroad policeman is entirely different,” he said.

He enjoyed focusing on deterring risk-taking behavior through education and conversations.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “But what you have to bring to people’s attention is how costly those mistakes can be when it comes to trains and crossings.”