On November 6, 2016, a two-year-old girl and an 11-month-old baby sat frightened atop a filthy mattress in an insect infested apartment without running water or heat. Alone and abandoned, they clung to their seven-year-old sister’s arms, shivering in the darkness.
Responding to a Children Left Alone call in Englewood, Chicago Police Sergeant Charles Artz and Officer Michael Cleary came upon the disturbing scene. It was unclear just how long the children had been abandoned. The officers acted quickly to care for the terrified children, taking the three to safety and soon thereafter arresting their father for child abuse. The officers remained at the girls’ sides even after they received care at a
The oldest, Destiny, had never been to school and was unable to spell her own name. However, she managed to tell the officers her grandmother’s name, Delores, which helped the officers track her down. Without hesitation, Delores agreed to take immediate custody of all three of her grandchildren, whom she had not seen in years.
Later, when the responding officers learned that Delores had sacrificed her bed for the children and was sleeping on the floor, they knew the family needed more support. They rallied other Chicago police officers and started bringing the children food, clothing, diapers and other essentials. Yet, it was clear that Delores still needed more help, although she never asked the officers for anything.
The officers joined together to further aid the girls and Delores. Together, and out of their own pockets, the 7th District officers helped put Destiny into a quality school, driving her there on their own time each morning. They threw birthday parties for the girls, bought them groceries, and helped Delores find a new apartment.
On one special occasion, they surprised Destiny with a trip to Brookfield Zoo Lights, where she met Santa for the first time. Then on Thanksgiving, the officers surprised Delores when they delivered a full meal. “I knew our angels were going to come today!” Delores exclaimed when they dropped off the food.
Myrian and Janice are now like favorite aunts to the girls, regularly stopping by the house to play and spend time with them.
“The way my officers came together like that … I’ve never seen anything like it in the 28 years I’ve worked for the Chicago Police Department,” Eve said. “Sometimes this job erodes our empathy. And sometimes we have to do something to restore our faith in humanity.”
The Law Enforcement Award is presented to a professional police officer(s) or related law enforcement official(s) who exhibited heroism either in response to an emergency situation or through an ongoing commitment to the community.
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