Patrolman John A. Utlak

Patrolman John A. Utlak

Niles Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Wednesday, December 8, 1982

John A. Utlak

Patrolman John Utlak was shot and killed by two juvenile suspects during an undercover narcotics investigation. Patrolman Utlak was meeting with the two suspects when he was shot three times with a .22 caliber handgun. His body was found the following day in a parking lot on Hunter Street.

Patrolman Utlak and his partner had met the suspects on two prior occasions and were using them as informants in a case. Patrolman Utlak was meeting with the suspects alone because his partner had the day off. The two suspects were apprehended several days later in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The suspects were returned to Ohio and the 18-year-old suspect who shot him was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison with eligibility for parole. He was denied parole in October of 2012. His next parole hearing is August, 2022.

Patrolman Utlak had served with the Niles Police Department for five years. He was survived by his parents, two sisters, and step-parents.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge 23

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .22 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

narcotics, juvenile offender, undercover

Most Recent Reflection

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I was born on the same day John Utlak was murdered. My dad was sworn in as a NPD officer a month after his death. Every time so visited my dad at work he'd always point to the plaque on the wall with John's picture. My parents have told me stories of how Utlak's parents brought my parents baby gifts when my dad was hired into the department-even though they were still grieving for their son. Every year on my birthday I think of this officer even though I never knew him. Every time I hear of an officer killed in the line of duty my heart breaks into a million pieces and I say a prayer for the fallen and for those who put their lives on the line to protect their community. God bless our police officers and first responders everywhere.


February 13, 2018

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