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Detective, officers recognized for community service

Posted: Friday, Mar 8th, 2013

Evanston police detective Chris Smith and mayor Joy Bell. HERALD PHOTO/Matt Roberts

EVANSTON — A trio of Evanston police staff members were recognized with the city’s EXCEL! award at the city council’s March 5 session for their work with the community.

Detective Chris Smith, who was nominated for the award by Sgt. Steve “Skippy” Smith, wrote in his letter of recommendation that detective Smith was instrumental in the apprehension of suspected burglars.

“On Jan. 7 and 8, the pawn shop on Front Street was burglarized, and the Evanston Police Department had no leads concerning the crime,” Sgt. Smith wrote. “Chris processed the crime scene in a professional, courteous and timely manner. Chris received a seemingly useless tip regarding a possible suspect. Using his years of experience, Chris was able to use this information to track down a suspect and gain a confession leading to the suspect’s arrest. It is without a doubt that, if Chris had not cracked this case, the community would have had more break-ins from this person.”

Smith was also noted for finding time in spite of his heavy case load to train new detective Richard McMurray, as well as new officers Paul Robbins and Ben Gilmore.

“Training these officers required hours of preparation and instruction, and Chris accepts these ‘extra’ responsibilities willingly and with no complaints,” the recommendation letter read. “The three officers received invaluable education from Chris concerning criminal investigations.”

Also receiving EXCEL! awards were officer Rebecca Landes and Sgt. Donald Shillcox, who helped bring a stranded cat out of a tree. They were both nominated for the award by Evanston Police Chief Jon Kirby.

According to the nomination submitted by Kirby, Landes and Shillcox responded to a call concerning a cat that had been stuck in a tree for two days near a home on Shady Lane in Evanston.

After contacting the homeowner, who confirmed the cat had been treed for some time, they attempted to go up after the cat, but that resulted in the creature moving further up the tree.

“Sgt. Shillcox realized a ladder was going to be needed to get this cat out of the tree,” Kirby wrote in his report. “He went to his residence and retrieved his personal ladder and returned to the Shady Lane residence. Officer Landes also went to her residence and retrieved a long plastic pipe to assist with the cat’s recovery. While atop the ladder, Landes used the pipe to coax the cat from the tree. The cat climbed part way down the tree, then jumped onto the roof of the residence’s garage and then to the ground. The cat then ran from the scene, apparently unharmed from its expedition.”

Kirby noted the officers’ compassion for the animal in need, and suggested the cat likely would not have survived without their intervention.

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