Although it’s often said that the police force is like a brotherhood, Sgts. Salvador Gamino and Joseph Fitzgerald had already formed a sibling-like bond before they joined the Berwyn Police Department.
The pair first met in kindergarten at St. Odilo Parish School and became fast friends. After eight years in school together, the two moved on to Fenwick High School in Oak Park.
After a brief stint at St. Mary’s College in Minnesota, Fitzgerald transferred to Illinois State University, where he and Gamino joined the same fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa. Fitzgerald served as the fraternity's treasurer while Gamino served as president.
“It is almost like a brother relationship. It’s like a family kind of thing,” said Gamino. “You first start developing memories in kindergarten, and since then, he’s always been my friend.”
After brief stints in the finance sector, Gamino and Fitzgerald became police officers — by chance, both at the Berwyn Police Department.
“The reason why we both came here is this is where we both grew up and we’re invested in the community at this point,” Fitzgerald said. “Growing up in Berwyn did give us a lot when we were here. It was a way for us to give back.”
Now, the two see each other nearly every workday and still socialize after hours. Their history together makes the often dangerous line of police work easier to handle.
“It is easy to be able to depend on him without question,” Gamino said, adding, “In any situation.”
That same intuitive relationship also bleeds into their personal lives, where Fitzgerald and Gamino can be seen seamlessly finishing each others’ sentences.
After years of working side by side, the two have developed what they call a “friendly rivalry.”
“We always motivate each other. He got hired here before me. He was promoted before me, he got his master’s before me, so he’s a little ahead of me now,” Gamino said. “So it’s always a motivator.”
The success of their friendship has relied on more than just proximity and landing a job in the same police department.
“I think why we are in the position that we’re in as friends is that we balance everything out as friends,” said Fitzgerald. “We’re not overly involved. We find that optimum happy balance.”
The one other key to their friendship, Fitzgerald said, is the fact that he had no brothers or sisters to bond with as a child.
“I have no siblings, and this is the closest thing I have to a sibling,” Fitzgerald said. “It was easy to gravitate towards each other and keep that gravitation throughout the years.”