Alumni Experience

Alumni Achiever

John Folino '02, '05, Homicide Detective

John FolinoJohn Folino says it doesn’t matter what color skin you have in the Chicago Police Department, as long as it’s thick. 

John Folino is a homicide detective. He was also a technical consultant on the short-lived Fox TV show The Chicago Code,  which delved into the lives of the CPD as they fought corruption within the city’s political machine. And while his passion is for solving murders – the real kind, not the kind that are over in 44 scripted minutes – the opportunities that were presented in Hollywood were unique, to say the least.

Folino’s TV job was to bring a level of realism to the show, working with actors to make sure “the police” came out of them, he said. That meant showing them how to handle a gun, use handcuffs and deploy tactical solutions.

“My claim to fame is I’ve put 114 police officers on camera, some featured, some in speaking roles,” said Folino. “On the show, if a house is raided or there’s a bank robbery, those are real officers.”

It was through charity work that Folino’s career took on an added dimension. At a benefit for a fallen Chicago police officer, he won a silent auction for a walk-on role on the TV show The Shield. Once on set, Folino met creator Shawn Ryan, a Rockford, Ill., native who would go on to create The Chicago Code.

He was hired to be one of the first people to read season one’s 13 scripts and tweak them for accuracy. Among the changes he made: “Precincts,” in the New York vernacular, became “districts.” “Perps” became “offenders.”

“I put my friends with the writers so they wrote about our experiences,” the 12-year CPD veteran said. “I had fun with it. For the pilot alone they shot 215 hours of film for $7 million.”

Folino, a native of Chicago, obtained a bachelor’s degree from Saint Xavier before coming back to earn his MBA in the fraud management program in 2005. Impressed with the program and tuition reimbursement as a Chicago officer, Folino returned a third time to get a graduate certificate in disaster preparedness and emergency management in 2006.

“I’ve been a recruiter for Saint Xavier like you wouldn’t believe,” Folino said. “I’ve brought in 100 people from the police department alone. I travel to districts and units to talk about the program. I didn’t even think twice about it.

“I liked the challenge that SXU gave me. It helped me make decisions, both as an individual and as a professional. It’s been a
significant part of my life.”

As much fun as it was to work on The Chicago Code, he said solving homicides is first and foremost his life’s work. Working the west and northwest sides of Chicago, Folino said that for every fresh murder, at the minimum there is eight hours of investigation, canvassing the neighborhood, interviewing witnesses and visiting the hospital or morgue.

“I’m very passionate about my job. I’d give my life for the Chicago Police Department. It’s a thankless job, but you do the best you can.”