Dignan Honored by Emerald Society

Anchor Cop Hero Honored By Emerald Society
IPSN Spring, 1995

Sergeant Peter F. Dignan of the Chicago Police Department Narcotics Section was named the 1995 Police Officer of the Year by members of the Emerald Society of Illinois for a selfless act of heroism that saved the lives of two fellow officers wounded by gunshots during a West Side drug bust.

Sgt. Dignan, a 26-year Chicago Police veteran, has earned 135 Honorable Mentions and three Departmental Commendations, and numerous other citations in an event-filled career, but no single tribute can mean as much as the one bestowed by one’s peers. Fighting back the tears, Dignan paid tribute to the two men in his unit involved in this case. Each man took a bullet in the line of duty. Dignan also recognized his fellow police officers and members of the Emerald Society, his wife Cheryl Lynn, their four children, and ll who have supported him down through the years.

This former Marine veteran earned a Purple Heart during his 13-month tour of duty in South Vietnam. Dignan enlisted in May 1966 and was detailed to the Fleet Marine Force, and the 3rd Marine division. He was discharged in September 1968, before embarking on a police career.

Pete’s great uncle was Michael Hughes, a legendary Chief of Detectives in Chicago who was advanced to Commissioner of Police during the Al Capone era (1927/1928). Dignan is the nephew of the late Sergeant Thomas “Joe” Connelly of the old Woodlawn district.

Dignan was originally assigned to the 3rd District, but his hard work and dedication to duty earned him a promotion to the rank of detective in 1973. In 1980 he became a member of the Hostage/Barricade/Terrorist Unit. He was transferred to the Organized Crime/Narcotics Section in 1986 before receiving a promotion to sergeant in December 1988.

Sergeant Dignan is the second recipient of the Emerald Society’s prestigious Police Officer of the Year Award. In 1994, the Society named John J. Flood, President and founder of the CCPA as its first Police Officer of the Year.

A civilian award honoring the Irish “Person of the Year” was presented to Melvin F. Loftus at the 1995 Dinner Dance held at the Lexington House. Mr. Loftus just completed his 36th year as a coordinator of Chicago’s festive St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and other civic events including the Columbus Day parades, and the World Cup Soccer parade in 1994.

The Emerald Society is a fraternal organization composed of 1,300 Irish-American police officers representing 62 police agencies from the city, county, state, and federal levels. The tragic deaths of three Chicago Police officers in February 1982 provided the impetus for the formation of the Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society – a renown group of volunteer musicians drawn form the ranks of the local police departments. The pipe band performs at numerous parades and civic events throughout the year, and has been featured in several recent movies filmed in Chicago – Backdraft, the Fugitive, and the Package.