Friday, September 20, 2019

‘My dad is definitely with us’

Police, family, neighbors unite
to salute Officer Benjamin Perez

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Seventeen years after her dad died, Katarina Perez shared a few thoughts about his life, at a public and emotional ceremony.

“As a young man, he was very intelligent, humble, smart,” she said. “He was a student council president. He ran his own prom. He was popular. He drew people to him. He was charming.”

Flanked by family, friends and dozens of supportive police officers, Perez was a key speaker Sept. 18 at an outdoor roll call of the Chicago Police Department. The event, which honored the late Officer Benjamin Perez, was held on the street at 53rd and Nashville, near the Perez family home. It was the ninth consecutive year an outdoor roll call was held in Perez’s honor.

Officer Perez was a young dad 17 years ago. He had been
Officer Benjamin Perez
on the police force for four years.

Assigned to the Odgen (10th) District, he was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 18, 2002. He and his partner, Officer Ron Zuniga, received information about a narcotics transaction occurring near the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe railroad tracks, just north of Cermak and Spaulding.

The officers climbed over an embankment and were conducting surveillance from a railroad trestle. As they watched for illegal activity, a Metra commuter train traveling at a high rate of speed was headed in their direction. 

Although both officers were able to get off the tracks, Officer Perez was pulled underneath the wheels by the forceful winds the train created.

He left behind his wife, Michele; as well as Katarina, a 9-year-old schoolgirl at St. Daniel the Prophet; toddler son, Benjamin; and infant daughter, Rebecca. All of them, as well as members of the larger family, were on hand Wednesday.

“I see old faces. I see new faces. It means a lot to us to know that you’re here,” she told the audience. “My dad is definitely with us, I can feel it.”

Known as a modest, hard-working, effective policeman, Perez earned 16 CPD honorable mentions in his four years on duty—yet no one in his family, not even his wife, knew of them until after his death. His family found the certificates stashed in a china cabinet drawer as they went through his personal effects.

Serving as master of ceremonies at the roll call was retired CPD Supt. Phil Cline, a former Garfield Ridge resident and current Chicago Police Memorial Foundation executive director.

“Ben died doing a job he loved, serving a country he loved even more,” Cline said. “He was the best of his generation. Ben was the ‘real police’…our mission is simple: go out and be the police. But that mission is sometimes dangerous.

“A small part of every one of us died when we lost Ben,” Cline continued. “Not just members of the police department, but every Chicagoan. When you look at Ben’s life, you discover a man who devoted himself completely to others and to his family. We did not just lose an exceptional police officer, we lost a remarkable person.”

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Garfield Ridge Cop Hailed as a Hero

Treated mentally ill woman with effective empathy

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

As policemen often are when they are praised, Officer Chuck Trendle was a bit aw-shucks modest as he received an award at a Garfield Ridge health clinic.

“This is pretty cool to get an award for something that comes second nature to me,” he said, moments after an August 28 press conference where he was praised by Access Community Health officials. “It’s like getting an award for riding a bike.”

Access officials gathered at the clinic near 55th and Merrimac to praise Trendle his work in defusing a potentially dangerous situation last winter, when a mentally unstable woman was ranting inside the clinic.

Officer Chuck Trendle with Access Health executives and staff.

Staff called 911 to request assistance; and although another officer was tasked with responding, Trendle took the call because he is well-versed in de-escalation techniques—in fact, he taught de-escalation to recruits at the police academy.

“When we arrived, she was in the street,” Trendle recalled. “We were able to convince her to come back here for her own well being. I already knew that she was going to be taken to a hospital. I told her, ‘You can come see my doctor.’ I bluffed her a bit; and that’s the way you have to do it. You don’t just say, ‘Hey, you’re coming to the hospital, whether you like it or not’ and throw her in handcuffs.’

“So I de-escalated, got her to the point where she was comfortable and got her to the hospital,” the officer continued. “The entire ride there, she was thanking me; and when I saw her three weeks afterwards, she thanked me again. That’s what the job is all about.”

“With her, unfortunately her meds aren’t working or she’s not
Officer Trendle speaks with news reporters after the award ceremony.
taking her meds,” Trendle said. “It’s been a regular thing with her. But these people [at the clinic] did an awesome job. They assigned her to a hospital. They care for her. She didn’t just go home for the day and yell and scream about demons in her head.”

It helped quite a bit, Trendle said, that he is a longtime Garfield Ridge resident and that the woman in crisis is a more or less neighbor.

“I’ve been dealing with her for a while,” he said. “I live in the community; so not only do I deal with her when I’m on duty, but off duty as well. I have a good rapport with her, for the most part... She is a person who needs a lot of help. The fact that I’ve been able to help her several times, it’s a nice feeling.”

It also helped that Trendle has seen and dealt with mental illness since he was young. He has a brother who “has been in and out of an institution, so I learned early how to talk with a person in crisis.”

In September, Trendle turns 46. In December, he will mark 25 years with CPD. He enjoys serving as a policeman.

“My whole career, I was taught to go in there and get the job done—and then move onto your next job. We’ve always been trained to rush through our jobs…go go go,” he said. “The new officers—those who have been on the job 10 years or less—they’ve been taught to take their time, to think of safety first.”

That’s important, he said, because “with de-escalation, it’s ‘Take your time.’ If it takes eight hours to bring someone down from being in a manic state to a getting them safely to a hospital—take eight hours. A lot of [older police officers] didn’t want to hear that at first; but then finally, we got the supervisors to learn the program, and then the people on the street, the regular patrolmen, were OK with it. Teaching de-escalation is not new at the department, but taking your time to de-escalate is a new theory.”

“I get it. I get not wanting to take your medication. I get the ‘hearing voices’ and all that stuff,” Trendle said. “But [a police officer responding to a crisis involving mental illness] can’t be heavy-handed…you have to treat [mentally ill people] humanely, and the more you can just breathe and relax while you’re in the situation, the easier it is to do.”

Trendle was praised by Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo.

"I have long said that one of the many benefits of living in Garfield Ridge is that so many of our Eighth District Police officers live right here, and that makes them more effective in going after criminals," he said. "But Officer Trendle added a dimension to that. Because the woman in crisis is a neighbor, someone he's familiar with, he was better able to assess her situation and get her the help she needed. We are all grateful for Officer Trendle and others like him."

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Crime News Update

Editor's note: The crime news reported by the Southwest Chicago Post---taken directly from Chicago Police Department incident reports---is not by any means an exhaustive catalogue of all crime reported in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District. For example, it typically does not include news of crimes committed in the eastern sectors of the district---because the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area is primarily the neighborhoods that border Midway Airport and secondarily because including the relatively large volume of crime news from elsewhere in the district would be a logistical challenge. We make this note to offer a little helpful perspective and remind everyone that while crime is definitely a concern in all parts of the district (as it always has been), crime remains relatively low overall in the western section of the district. May all of us work together diligently to keep it that way. May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Cops bust convicted sex offender

A convicted sex offender was charged with failing to register with authorities after he was
Martin Manzo
arrested on the street near Archer and Mayfield at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday, August 13.

Martin Manzo, 56, a homeless man, was reportedly seen drinking alcohol on the public way by police.

When stopped, he allegedly gave a false name. A charge of obstructing identification was added.

Convicted sex offenders who are homeless are required to check in with authorities once a week, police said at the August meeting of CAPS Beat 811--where they described the arrest as one of the recent success stories on the beat.

According to public records, when Manzo was 36 years old, he sexually assaulted an eight-year-old child.

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Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in and/or own a business in Beats 813 or 833 (see map) make plans to attend your next CAPS meeting, set for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 27 at West Lawn Park, 4233 West 65th Street. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.

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Charge man with gangbanging
Christopher Lagunes

An 18-year-old West Elsdon man was charged with reckless conduct after he was arrested near the corner of 57th and Hamlin at 1:25 p.m. Wednesday, August 14.

Christopher Lagunes, of the 3800 block of West 57th Place, was spotted throwing gang signs at passersby, according to police.

According to public records, Lagunes has been arrested four times this year by CPD on charges that included indecent exposure/urinating in public, criminal trespass to land, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and several traffic citations.

Claim man shoved woman
David Meller

A 35-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 5500 block of South Parkside at 2:11 a.m. Tuesday, August 13.

David Meller allegedly used an open hand to shove a 40-year-old woman during an argument, police said.

According to public records, Meller was arrested at his home in May 2018 and charged with assault.

Claim man slapped woman
Juan Hinojosa

A 21-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 5800 block of South Mason at 8:04 p.m. Friday, August 9.

Juan Marcos Hinojosa allegedly slapped the face of of 20-year-old woman during an argument, police said.

Charge man with domestic battery
David Karwowski

A 30-year-old Clearing man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 6600 block of West 64th Place at 7:10 p.m. Thursday, August 15.

David Karwowski allegedly restrained and pulled the hair of a 25-year-old woman during an argument, police said.

Charge Clearing man with punching, kicking another man
James Ciccone

A 22-year-old Clearing man was charged with battery after he was arrested in the 6300 block of South Narragansett at 4 a.m. Sunday, August 18.

James A. Ciccone, of the 6100 block of South Narragansett, allegedly punched and kicked a 54-year-old man during and argument. The victim was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center for treatment, police said.

According to public records, Ciccone was arrested three times by CPD since 2015--once on a charge of public intoxication, and earlier this year on a battery charge.

Charge man with violating order of protection
Filimon Rogel

A 38-year-old Clearing man was charged with violating an order of protection after he was arrested at a home in the 6100 block of South Menard at 10:25 p.m. Friday, August 9.

Filimon Rogel, of the same block, allegedly has an order of protection against him by a 35-year-old woman. Police declined to say what the relationship is between the two.

According to public records, Rogel has been arrested seven times by CPD since 2014 on such charges as aggravated DUI, criminal damage to property, driving on a revoked license and violating a civil "no contact" order.

Claims $20,000 missing from house

A 49-year-old man told police that someone stole $20,000 cash from the house where he lives in the 6600 block of South Kenneth. The crime was reported to police at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, about an hour after it was discovered by the home’s owner, a 59-year-old woman. She told police that a burglar had stolen assorted jewelry, her wallet and $1,200 cash had been stolen from her. Police investigating noted pry marks on a basement door.

Loaded gun in his hoodie, police say

A 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with a weapons violation after police arrested him in the alley behind 5702 S. Pulaski at 6:18 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15. Police on patrol spotted the teen walking with two other people. When they saw a bulge in the front pocket of his hoodie, they investigated and found an unregistered pistol with a live round in the chamber about a dozen live rounds in the magazine. The weapon and was confiscated and the youth apprehended.

Cite 63rd Street store with selling beer to a minor

A West Lawn convenience store at 63rd and Hamlin was ticketed for selling alcohol to a minor during a sting that occurred at 4:23 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Police said that a 38-year-old cashier—an Alsip man--sold a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles of Busch beer to an 18-year-old woman working undercover.

Police said the 18-year-old carried no identification, and the cashier did not ask to see any. 

Store representative will have to respond to the charge at a hearing set for 1:45 p.m. Sept. 9 in Room 805 of City Hall, 121 S. LaSalle.

Burglars swipe thousands in furniture

Burglars broke into three truck trailers belonging to United Furniture Import/Export, 4100 W. 76th St., and stole about $4,000 worth of furniture that included two bed frames, a mattress, two box springs, 11 coffee tables, two end tables, two mirrors and a bed rail. The crime was reported to police at 6:41 pm. Tuesday, Aug. 13 by the firm’s owner, a 25-year-old man. The crime occurred about two days earlier. Surveillance footage showed that a Volkswagen and a U-Haul trailer were used to transport the stolen furniture.

Burglars hit house, then garage

Burglars broke into a home in the 3700 block of West 65th Street and stole a TV, $200 cash and a set of stereo speakers—and then broke into the garage on the property and stole four tires. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 43-year-old woman, at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13. A police review of a neighbor’s home security footage showed two offenders—a white man age 30-35, five-foot-8 and 160 pounds, with a light complexion and black hair in a pony tail; and a white man age 40-45, five-foot-7 and 180 pounds, with a light complexion and short black hair.

Burglars steal cash from garage

A 21-year-old Archer Heights man said that burglars broke into his garage in the 5000 block of South Kilpatrick and stole $200 cash. They also reportedly stole a construction saw from his yard, police added. The crime was reported to police at 10:14 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, about a half hour after it was discovered.

Man charged after family dustup

A 51-year-old Scottsdale man was charged with two counts of domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 8600 block of South Kostner at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14. Frank Andrews allegedly shoved his 62-year-old wife during an argument and then allegedly twisted the arm of his 24-year-old son and threw him onto a sofa.

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