Illinois State Police Home Illinois State Police
Hiram Grau, Director
Hiram Grau,
Director
Pat Quinn, Governor
Pat Quinn,
Governor


Agency Links

Illinois Home
ISP Fallen Officers Memorial
Illinois State Police Memorial Park
Agencies, Boards & Commissions
Illinois Amber Alert
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Inspector General
Illinois Department of Human Rights

  Illinois State Police News Release   

diagonal image

Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor

ISP Seal
Press Release Date: January 27, 2000    || Archived October 3, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, IL - The prestigious Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor was presented today to eight Illinois law enforcement officers during ceremonies held at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield. The state's highest law enforcement award is presented annually to police officers who risk their lives above and beyond the call of duty. "The eight men that we honor today represent the best that Illinois has to offer," said Governor George H. Ryan. "The medals they're receiving are just small tokens of our thanks to them. The courage and self-sacrifice they have exhibited in the line of duty stand out in a world that all too often is saturated by crime and violence." Listed below are this year's honorees.
 
Officer Ricky A. Bean of the Chicago Police Department was cited for his heroic actions during an armed robbery of a barber shop. Officer Bean was off-duty on July 30, 1999, having his hair cut at the establishment when two armed robbers entered with their guns drawn. They ordered the patrons, including a seven-year-old boy, to put their money and jewelry on the floor and told the barbers to empty their cash drawers. Bean announced he was a police officer while drawing his weapon from under the barber shop apron. One of the gunmen pointed the pistol at Bean, who fired once striking the robber in his gun hand. When he switched the gun to his other hand, Bean fired again, mortally wounding him. The second robber then fired at Bean. The shot missed its mark. Bean returned fire, hitting the second suspect in the leg. Giving up the losing battle, the robber fled to a waiting getaway car. Bean immediately called in the description of the wounded suspect, who was arrested minutes later trying to get treatment for his gun wound at a nearby hospital.
 
Officer Michael A. Ceriale of the Chicago Police Department received the Medal of Honor posthumously in recognition of his tragic death while trying to curtail gang and narcotic activity. On August 15, 1998, Officer Ceriale and his partner initiated a drug investigation at the Chicago Housing Authority's Robert Taylor Homes. Despite the danger of the assignment, Ceriale and his partner conducted a surveillance from the cover of bushes, adjacent to a building where the officers knew that illicit drug transactions frequently took place and that offenders were often armed. The officers took up position to observe the transactions, and planned to call for assistance from other units for the arrest and recovery of the drugs. Tragically, the drug dealers spotted them and one fired a shot that struck Ceriale in his lower abdomen, just beneath his body armor. Ceriale was rushed to a hospital where he died five days later.

Detective Joe Hamilton of the Chicago Police Department was honored for his heroic actions in arresting an armed robber in the midst of a holdup at a fast food restaurant. On February 28, 1998, after tracking armed robbery patterns of fast food restaurants, officers set-up surveillance at several locations that seemed to be likely targets of the robber. From his surveillance position, Hamilton observed a male enter a restaurant armed with a handgun and called-in an "armed robbery in progress." Hamilton continued to observe the robbery unfold as covert police cars arrived at the scene to surround the building. Hamilton feared that if the robber became aware he was surrounded, he might take hostages or begin shooting, so Hamilton crept inside undetected, announced he was a police officer, and ordered the robber to drop his gun. After a brief hesitation, the robber dropped his gun and surrendered. Subsequent lineups linked the man, a recent parolee, to 13 other robberies of fast food restaurants.
 
Chicago Police Officer Eric D. Rudzinski was honored for his heroic actions in successfully apprehending two armed and dangerous subjects. On June 27, 1998, Rudzinski was headed home from work when he heard gunshots and saw a crowd of about 40 people gathered at a street corner. Fearing someone might be hurt, he approached on foot and announced he was a police officer. He then observed two men shouting angrily at the crowd, when one of them pointed a handgun and fired at the crowd. Rudzinski drew his weapon and ordered the offender to drop his gun. His attention diverted away from the crowd, the man fired twice at Rudzinski, who then returned fire. The gunman and his partner fled with Rudzinski in pursuit. As the pair entered an alley, they fired again. Rudzinski took cover and returned fire. Knowing the crowd was no longer in danger, the officer left the alley and flagged down on-duty officers for assistance. With them, he took the second offender into custody. As they were questioning the man, a report came over the radio of a man shot in a nearby apartment. The officers went to the given address and found the original assailant wounded in the shoulder and leg. Subsequent investigation revealed that the two offenders were suspects in an armed robbery committed shortly before in the same area.

Officer William Verburg of the Orland Park Police Department was recognized for his heroic actions in rescuing a pregnant mother and her infant from two dangerous suspects who had broken into her home. Officer Verburg was patrolling on the morning of January 29, 1998, when his radar clocked a car going 86 mph in a 40 mph zone with two men inside. As he pursued the offender, Verburg heard an emergency radio message that the car had been stolen in Tinley Park and was heading toward Orland Park. Verburg found the empty car moments later, abandoned after it crashed into a utility pole. Verburg and assisting officers began a search when he heard distant screams for help. Moving towards the calls for help, he located the house they were coming from. Looking in from the back of the house, he saw two men trying to hold and quiet a woman who was clutching an infant and struggling to get away from them. Verburg crashed through the door and confronted the two. When they let the woman go and tried to flee, he tackled the two simultaneously. They were taken into custody without further incident.
 
Illinois State Police Sergeant Richard E. Decker of Joliet and Trooper Henry C. Spight, III, of Sauk Village received the Medal of Honor in recognition of their heroic actions in rescuing two men from a burning car. At about 1 a.m. on February 7, 1998, Trooper Spight, recently graduated from the state police academy and still on probation, was on routine patrol with Decker, his field training officer. Noticing a flicker in the distance, Decker wheeled his squad around for a closer look. As they approached, they noticed a car had run off the road, crashed into a tree, and caught fire. Two men were inside, unresponsive, and trapped in the wreckage. The flames intensified and threatened to engulf the vehicle. A motorist arrived to help with the rescue effort, and after radioing the fire department, the three men coordinated their efforts. Spight and Decker concentrated on dousing the flames, emptying their fire extinguishers in the process. The driver was freed and pulled to safety, but the passenger remained trapped, his leg pinned under the dashboard. With each passing moment, the flames grew more intense, with the heat driving the officers back. Mindful of the possibility of a gasoline explosion, they beat back the flames with their leather jackets and tried to slow the fire with handfuls of snow. Just when it seemed they would be overcome by the heat, the troopers saw red flashing lights, and soon the arriving fire fighters poured water on the flames to extinguish the blaze. Using the "jaws of life," the firefighters pulled the passenger from the wreckage. The efforts of Sergeant Decker and Trooper Spight undoubtedly saved the two men from perishing in the crash.

Illinois State Police Sergeant Richard E. Decker of Joliet and Trooper Henry C. Spight, III, of Sauk Village received the Medal of Honor in recognition of their heroic actions in rescuing two men from a burning car. At about 1 a.m. on February 7, 1998, Trooper Spight, recently graduated from the state police academy and still on probation, was on routine patrol with Decker, his field training officer. Noticing a flicker in the distance, Decker wheeled his squad around for a closer look. As they approached, they noticed a car had run off the road, crashed into a tree, and caught fire. Two men were inside, unresponsive, and trapped in the wreckage. The flames intensified and threatened to engulf the vehicle. A motorist arrived to help with the rescue effort, and after radioing the fire department, the three men coordinated their efforts. Spight and Decker concentrated on dousing the flames, emptying their fire extinguishers in the process. The driver was freed and pulled to safety, but the passenger remained trapped, his leg pinned under the dashboard. With each passing moment, the flames grew more intense, with the heat driving the officers back. Mindful of the possibility of a gasoline explosion, they beat back the flames with their leather jackets and tried to slow the fire with handfuls of snow. Just when it seemed they would be overcome by the heat, the troopers saw red flashing lights, and soon the arriving fire fighters poured water on the flames to extinguish the blaze. Using the "jaws of life," the firefighters pulled the passenger from the wreckage. The efforts of Sergeant Decker and Trooper Spight undoubtedly saved the two men from perishing in the crash.
 
Greene County Sheriff's Deputy Rick J. Graham received his medal for rescuing two victims from a burning vehicle. Having received a call regarding a single car accident with injuries, Roodhouse Police Chief Stephen Speeks rushed to the scene while notifying the Greene County Sheriff's Office. Arriving at the same time, the chief and deputy found the car had rolled down an embankment and burst into flames; three people were trapped inside. After calling the fire department, they rushed to rescue the victims. Both Speeks and Graham used their fire extinguishers to fight back the flames. Graham ran to the driver's side and was able to pull one of the passengers out through the driver's window. The deputy immediately placed the first victim on the ground and returned to the car where he was able to rescue another victim. Speeks' fire extinguisher then gave out, and he and a bystander began to carry the two victims away from the burning car. One person, a 15-year-old girl, was still trapped. Graham tried to smash out the back window to get to her while the flames threatened to envelop him. The chief ran back to the car and told the deputy they had to get away -- the car was about to explode. Graham, Speeks, and the bystander carried one of the victims up the hill to safety. As they reached the crest, the car blew up. Due to Deputy Graham's selflessness and bravery, two victims were saved from the burning car and taken to safety.

"The individuals recognized today had the courage to stand up to crime on our streets and the courage to throw themselves into this danger on a daily basis. They, along with their brothers and sisters, form the first – and most important – line of defense against crime on our streets," Ryan said.
 
The Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor was created by the General Assembly as a means of recognizing "gallantry and intrepidity" by law enforcement officers. A committee appointed by the Governor selects the recipients from a list of nominees submitted by law enforcement agencies around the state. Illinois State Police Director Sam. W. Nolen, committee chair, stated, "For virtually every man and woman in law enforcement, bravery and self sacrifice are expected in the regular performance of duty. But these remarkable officers have set new standards for heroic action. The whole state is proud of them."

###
For more information contact:
Public Information Office
Telephone: 217-782-6637
TDD: 1-800-255-3323

Agency Features

FOID
Concealed Carry
Sex Offender Information
Missing Illinois Sex Offenders
Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Information
Methamphetamine Manufacturer Registry
Uniform Crime Reporting
Take the ISP Citizen Survey
Medicaid Fraud

State Features

Illinois Accountability Project
Copyright © 2014 Illinois State Police Site Map | ISP Privacy | Illinois Privacy Info | Kids Privacy | Web Accessibility | Contact Us