The Evanston Police Department recognized members of its own department, six Evanston residents, two aldermen – one from Evanston and one from Chicago – and a retired Evanston firefighter for their service in making the community safer.
A child rescued from the lake and another from the Des Plaines River, a 20-year-old murder solved, suspects apprehended and public safety enhanced were among the acts honored at the May 22 ceremony.
Eighth Ward Alderman Ann Rainey and Chicago Alderman Debra Silverstein worked to close Siblings, a bar near their common border, Howard Street. The two Alderman Rainey and Silverstein, together with the Chicago Police Department’s CAPS and the Evanston Police Department’s problem-solving team, received the police department’s 2014 partnership award.
Ald. Rainey described the condition of the bar to the RoundTable and added, “It was really the neighbors who closed it.”
Citizen awards went to Jean-Paul Simonpietri and Paul Boynton, to Eric Schneider and Jerome Kliejunas. The Chief’s Special Awards went to Jeffrey Berger-White and Dwayne Bryant and to Eilidh Hall and Alexandra Mitrea.
Mr. Boynton and Mr. Simonpietri responded to a call for help from a woman whose purse had been stolen by an offender who reached through the window of her car. The two “assisted responding officers with placing the offender into custody.” Mr. Schneider and Mr. Kliejunas pursued a person they saw steal a cellphone and directed police officers to where the suspect was hiding. The suspect was charged with a felony.
Mr. Bryant and Mr. Berger-White were responsible for the capture of a person who had stolen a cellphone. Eilidh Hall and Ms. Mitrea noticed a little girl in distress, being steadily pulled into the lake by the strong current and waves. Both jumped into the water and were able to pull the girl, age 5, to safety.
The department’s Unit Citation went to the Social Services and Youth Advocate Division, which has “the responsibilities of being involved in critical incidents, providing crisis-intervention counseling, information and resources for crime victims and witnesses as well as medical advocacy for victims and families of the Evanston community.” Beckie Fischer, Sara Jayes and Patrice Quehl accepted the award.
The following members of the Evanston Police Department were singled out for honorable mention:
Sergeant Gil Levy, Officer Scott Sophier, Detective Mikhail Geyer, Detective Adam Pack, Detective Phil Lang, Detective Brian Hicks, Detective Keith Carter, Officer Kyle Wideman, Detective Corey McCray, Officer Marla Dukler, retired Detective Vince Santillo, Sergeant Gene Mulligan, Sergeant Steven Goldenberg, Detective Aaron Wernick, Analysit Michael Wasocicz and Officer Martin Neal.
In what may have been a departure from the typical police awards night, the department honored Geoffrey Block, who recently retired as a Division Chief of Evanston’s Fire and Life Safety Services department.
Officer Sean O’Brien was recognized as the officer of the year for rescuing a boy with autism from the icy Des Plaines River. Officer O’Brien was off duty at the time he saw the boy, apparently confused, near a major street in Des Plaines. When the boy threw a snowball into the river and then went in after it, Officer O’Brien jumped into the river and saved him.
At the close of the short ceremony Police Chief Richard Eddington said the Evanston police officers perform extraordinary acts that demonstrate their commitment to their duty and to the community of Evanston.
“There’s cake in the lobby,” he told the members of the audience, adding, “Tonight you are among heroes.”