Police Stories: The 2017 Park Forest Citizen Awards

Officers salute family and Park Forest citizens, pfpd
Officers salute family and Park Forest citizens at the 14th annual Park Forest Police Honors Ceremony. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Park Forest Police Department held its annual awards and recognitions ceremony on Saturday, January 20, 2018. During that event, awards were presented to citizens, officers and staff, as eNews Park Forest previously reported. While naming all those the department honored for 2017, we did not share the individual stories that merited these awards.

We are pleased to begin a series of articles where we tell these stories, beginning, as the police did, with citizen awards.

The following is based on narratives read as the awards were presented. Let their actions serve as an inspiration for us all to remain vigilant, and, should the time call, muster the fortitude to make the call.

Citizen Award Presented To Ashley Jamison

The first to be honored was Ashley Jamison.

Police reported that on April 19, 2017, officers were dispatched to court J-5 in reference a report of a theft-in-progress. The caller, Ashley Jamison, called 911 to report that an unknown person had stolen the lawn mower from her neighbors’ porch and left the area on foot.

Ms. Jamison provided a description of the suspect and the lawnmower that was taken.

A person who matched the suspect description was located but he was not in possession of the lawnmower.

Ms. Jamison was brought to where the suspect was stopped and she positively identified him as the offender. Following a brief search of the area, the lawnmower was recovered. Based on the suspect’s previous criminal history, the Cook County States’ Attorneys’ Office approved one count of felony theft.

“Ms. Jamison’s willingness to look out for her neighbors and assist police in their investigation is an asset to the community,” police said in presenting the award, “and in this instance disrupted a felony crime-in-progress and resulted in the recovery of her neighbor’s property.”

Citizen Award Presented To Gino and Rosalind Best, Christel Allen

Police reported that on May 15, 2017, the Park Forest Police Department was investigating a criminal sexual assault of a young woman walking home from school, and an armed offender was the suspect, according to police.

Detectives began looking for surveillance cameras and observed several on Westwood Drive. Ordinances in Park Forest require registration of local alarm systems.

Detectives spoke with Gino and Rosalind Best who indicated they had several high quality cameras which captured the entire exterior of their home and invited detectives into their home view several different camera views.

After viewing video recordings, police determined the surveillance system captured the suspect following the victim in his vehicle. The video system also provided detectives with the last direction of travel, which led to additional video footage from other surveillance cameras.

Detectives also spoke with Christel Allen. Ms. Allen also invited the detective into her home and was able to pull up the video recording of the alleged offender’s vehicle, which had parked directly across the street from her house. Due to the high quality of the system, detectives were able to pinpoint the exact make and model of the vehicle and confirm it was only occupied by the offender.

Following investigation, the suspect was subsequently charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated armed robbery.

“It was learned that the offender was a serial rapist and had committed these crimes in several other communities,” police said in presenting the award, “and the assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Best and Ms. Allen were crucial in obtaining criminal charges.”

Citizen Award Presented To José Jones

Police also presented an award to Mr. José Jones.

According to police, on July 19, 2017, Mr. Jones observed two male juveniles point handguns at two female juveniles in the area of Indianwood Boulevard and Nashua Street.

Fearing for the safety of the girls and the community, Mr. Jones contacted police and provided detailed descriptions of the alleged offenders. Based on the descriptions he provided, responding officers located the suspects and look-alike guns were found on each of their persons.

After investigation, both juveniles were petitioned for felony aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.

Due to Mr. Jones’ observations and willingness to act on behalf of his community, two suspects allegedly threatening young women were arrested and further criminal acts were likely prevented.

Citizen Award Presented to Amber Schmidt

On December 5, 2017, police reported, Amber Schmidt contacted the police department regarding a suspicious vehicle parked in front of her residence.  Ms. Schmidt, a recent victim of package thefts, indicated that the vehicle was occupied by two subjects who were looking around as she was leaving her home.

Officers responded to the scene. Upon making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, officers discovered that they had been smoking cannabis.  The occupants were detained and a search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of cannabis and a loaded handgun which police report was “illegally possessed.” The weapon had an extended magazine.

The passenger in the vehicle was charged with possession of cannabis. The driver was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

“Ms. Schmidt’s vigilance in contacting the Park Forest Police Department helped in removing an illegally possessed firearm from the streets of Park Forest,” police said, “and assisted in keeping the residents of her Village safe.”