L to R, Police Chief Richard Eddington, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, and Officers of the Year William Arzuaga, Pauline Pogorzelski, and Heidi Bernhardt.                                                                                           RoundTble photo

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At the Evanston Police Department Awards Ceremony on April 13, many police officers and staff were given awards for outstanding police work and for services beyond that normally expected. Several citizens were honored as well.

“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,” said  Deputy Police Chief Jay Parrott in his opening remarks. “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.”

Several Police Officers received awards officers for taking loaded guns off the street, often times in connection with what started out as a routine traffic stop. Others were recognized for taking narcotics off the street, stopping a burglary in progress, rescuing a child held by a knife-wielding woman on PCP, preventing sexual child abuse and child pornography, and preventing suicide attempts. 

Members of the Special Operations Unit were given an award for their work in dismantling a national drug operation. As part of that operation, more than 17 members of the drug operation were charged with various felonies; and  the unit executed 38 search warrants, seized 10 vehicles and more than $900,000 in currency and assets.

Members of the Special Operations Unit were awarded for their investigative work into a trafficking organization that led to the seizure of heroin, crack cocaine, and other drugs, two stolen vehicles, and an automatic rifle. Members of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) team were honored for their work in implementing an update of the CAD system.

Officers Heidi Bernhardt, Pauline Pogorzelski, and William Arzuaga were given Officer of the Year awards.

On Oct. 22, 2016, Officers Bernhardt and Pogorzelski were on the way to their post for a Northwestern football game when they saw a semi truck hit and run over fellow police officer, Cathy DeFranceschi. They immediately stopped the truck, which came to rest on top of Officer DeFranceschi’s  torso, pinning her under the wheel. The driver was initially unaware that he had hit anyone, but with the assistance of Officers Bernhardt and Pogorzelski, the driver backed the truck off Officer DeFranceschi within seconds. Immediate aid was rendered and medical care was on scene within minutes.

Deputy Police Chief Jay Parrott told Officers Bernhardt and Pogorzelski, “Due to your calm and professional actions and your prompt actions, you saved the life of another officer.”

On April 21, 2016, Officer Arzuaga responded to 911 calls that a juvenile had been shot in the leg at 1935 Jackson Ave.. Officer Arzuaga was the first officer on the scene and saw the youth was bleeding profusely. He immediately applied a tourniquet and attended to the juvenile in an effort to stop the bleeding until paramedics arrived. The juvenile was transported to Evanston Hospital where he underwent several hours of surgery in an effort to repair an artery and save the his leg. Medical staff later contacted the Police Department to commend Officer Arzuaga’s actions.

Deputy Chief Parrott told Officer Arzuaga, “If not for your quick thinking to utilize your training and equipment, the juvenile would have succumbed to his injuries. Your willingness to act and the heroic nature of your actions saved this juvenile’s life.”

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...