John Balcerzak was a Milwaukee police officer who became involved in the serial killings of Jeffrey Dahmer in May 1991. At the time, John Balcerzak and two partners, as well as a police trainee and the fire department, responded to a phone call placed by two women, Nichole Childress and Sandra Smith, who they discovered 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone naked on the street. Dahmer came outside and told the police officers that the boy's name was John Hmong and that his age was either 19 or 20.
Despite the protests of Childress and Smith, who recognized Sinthasomphone from the neighborhood and were convinced he was in danger, John Balczerak ordered the fire department to leave. He and his fellow officers then escorted Sinthasomphone back into Dahmer's apartment, where the serial killer showed them photos he had taken of the boy in his underwear. Satisfied that Dahmer and Sinthasomphone were consensual sexual partners, the officers departed the scene.
Subsequently, Sinthasomphone was killed and dismembered by Dahmer, who had already drilled a hole in his head. After Dahmer's arrest for 17 serial killings, the case of Sinthasomphone led to John Balczerak and his partner being dismissed in September of 1991. John Balczerak subsequently testified at the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer for the prosecution.
John Balczerak was subsequently the target of a lawsuit filed by the estate of Sinthasomphone. Additionally, he was sued by Catherine Lacy, whose son was also murdered by Dahmer. Her lawsuit alleged that because of the neglect of John Balczerak and his fellow officers, Dahmer was allowed to remain at large, leading to the death of her own son. Furthermore, she alleged that John Balczerak dismissed the allegations of the black witnesses on the scene of the crime because of racist tendencies.
Catherine Lacy's lawsuit was dismissed. Subsequently, John Balczerak and his fellow officer filed a lawsuit of his own against the city of Milwaukee. As part of their argument, their counsel argued that their dismissal had been unreasonable, because they were merely guilty of negligence, which was not a fireable offense. Furthermore, they alleged that they had been denied both their fifth amendment right to avoid self-incrimination during testimony and their sixth amendment right to counsel during testimony. Further among their argument, John Balczerak and his fellow officer alleged that their dismissal was based on racial grounds, as part of an attempt to appease black members of the community who felt the department had acted on a racist basis.
After a series of appeals and reversals, John Balczerak and his fellow officer appeared before the seventh circuit appeals court. Here, their arguments that racial bias had led to their dismissal were once again dismissed. However, John Balczerak and his fellow officer were ultimately successful in having their positions in the Milwaukee police department reinstated. After returning to his career, John Balczerak was also subsequently elected to the position of head of the local police association.