NORTH AURORA – The North Aurora Police Department has revealed the finalists for its 2012 Police Officer of the Year award – officers John “Jake” Kerlin and Mark Shillair.
The North Aurora Lions Club will announce the winner at its annual awards banquet, which is Jan. 22 at the Gaslite Manor in Aurora. The award has been presented annually since 2005. Police supervisors provide the nominations, and the Lions Club chooses the winner.
Kerlin has been instrumental in the police department’s Police And Citizens Together program. He has increased the number of citizens he interacts with through day-to-day greetings and several meetings.
Kerlin began a practice of showing honor and respect to officers killed in the line of duty during the year by supplying and decorating a “memorial tree” each holiday season. The tree honors each fallen officer with a blue-ribbon, photo, and information on how the officer was killed. It not only honors the fallen but also reminds officers to guard against complacency.
He is a leader on the department’s honor guard team, which just completed its first year. As a former soldier in the U.S. Army, he has been instrumental with planning, coordinating and building the team, according to a news release. He has been a member of the North Aurora Police Department for 12 years and is currently assigned to the evening shift patrol.
Shillair was nominated for his lifesaving actions during an Aug. 4 incident. Shillair was dispatched to a disturbance at 6:08 p.m. at Randall Road and Ice Cream Drive. The caller reported that her 33-year-old son exited her vehicle and would not get back in.
Shillair was the first to arrive on the scene, and he found the subject walking on the Randall Road bridge over Interstate 88. Shillair stopped his vehicle next to the subject and asked him what was going on. The subject told Shillair to “get your camera ready because I’m going to jump off the bridge.” Then the man climbed on top of the bridge sidewall facing the tollway below. Shillair was able to exit his squad car and pull the man (who was taller and nearly double the officer’s weight) off of the wall and onto the ground before he could jump.
Neither the man nor Shillair was injured. The man later was taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation.
Shillair was awarded the lifesaving medal for his actions. He has been a member of the North Aurora Police Department for seven years and is assigned to the evening shift patrol.