Many police-citizen interactions are by nature uncomfortable. Oftentimes the news focuses on the interactions in which a police officer has overstepped, has escalated what should have been a minor offense into something major, has used excessive force or gone beyond the bounds of what we think was appropriate, sometimes using 20/20 hindsight.

The annual Evanston Police Department Awards ceremony is an opportunity to learn about a different side of police-citizen interactions.

Deputy Chief Jay Parrott said at the beginning of the April 13 ceremony, “Police officers work in an environment where their performance is always being evaluated to ensure that it is lawful, righteous and that the community’s expectations are properly being met. Tonight the Department recognizes that outstanding performance by honoring police officers, civilian employees, citizens, and friends of the City of Evanston that have all gone above and beyond the call of duty to promote the a better quality of life for this community.”

The awards ceremony gives a glimpse of the varied ways in which police serve and protect our community, sometimes at significant personal risk.  Here are examples of some of the police actions that were recognized at the awards ceremony:

• Many police officers took loaded guns off the street, at times in connection with what started out as a routine traffic stop, after a foot chase, after hearing gunshots and seeing muzzle flashes, or in connection with searching for subjects wanted for the commission of a crime. Anytime a police officer is taking away a loaded gun from a suspect, the officer is at risk.

• Police officers apprehended people after receiving calls of a burglary, by quickly getting to the scene and investigating, and at times chasing suspects on foot.

• Police officers quickly located and arrested a man who had held a woman against her will for 14 hours during which time he battered, choked, and sexually assaulted the woman.

• After a 5-year old child was brought to St. Francis Hospital emergency room with suspicious injuries, police investigated the incident and brought charges against the father for severely beating the child with a belt.

• In following up on a report of a major vehicle crash, police learned that the woman driver ran with a naked toddler into a home and armed herself with a kitchen knife. Police were able to secure the woman, who was on PCPs, and the child without injury.

• A school resource officer followed up on an anonymous report that a student observed child pornography on a substitute teacher’s cellphone. After a five-month investigation, the teacher was charged with felony child pornography.

• Several police officers prevented people from committing suicide – one person who was thinking about using the third rail of the CTA tracks to do so, another who was pulled back from jumping out a window of a multi-story building.

• A tele communicator provided quick and accurate information received in 19 separate 911 calls regarding a shooting incident in which multiple people were shot and victims were located at three separate locations.

• One officer saved a young man who was shot in the leg and bleeding profusely. The officer applied a tourniquet and tended to the youth until paramedics arrived. Other officers saved a fellow officer pinned under a truck by guiding the driver of the truck off their fellow officer.

• Members of the Special Operations Unit helped dismantle a national drug operation, in which more than 17 people were charged with felonies; and  the unit executed 38 search warrants, seized 10 vehicles and more than $900,000 in currency and assets.

• Members of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) team implemented an update of the CAD system.

Although at times confrontational, we recognize and appreciate that Evanston depends upon the difficult, and at times dangerous, work or our police and support staff. We are a safer place because of their dedicated work.